Monday, September 03, 2007

Five best: literary depictions of religion and politics

Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon selected a five best "literary works [which] excel in their depiction of religion and politics" list for Opinion Journal.

One title on her list:

Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) draws one so deeply into the sights, sounds, smells and turmoil of a city in the throes of modernization that one is almost disoriented on emerging from its pages. "Sugar Street" is the last and most political novel in the 1988 Nobel Prize winner's "Cairo Trilogy," a saga that follows the members of a large Muslim family from the Egyptian struggle against British occupation to the political upheavals that led to the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952. Each of the patriarch's five children reacts differently to the crumbling of traditional society: One brother plunges more deeply into Islam, another withdraws into secular philosophy, while another embraces militant Marxism. The two daughters cannot imagine living the cloistered existence that their mother endured, but in the late 1940s they find no clear alternatives. In this portrayal of a postcolonial society where traditional religion is deteriorating and nationalism is on the rise, one glimpses the tangled roots of tragedies that were to come.

Read more about Glendon's list.

--Marshal Zeringue