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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Love in the Rain

Naguib Mahfouz

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Title: Love in the Rain
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Genre: Novel
Written: 1973 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 130 pages
Original in: Arabic
Availability: Love in the Rain - US
Love in the Rain - UK
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Love in the Rain - India
  • Arabic title: الحب تحت المطر
  • Translated by Nancy Roberts

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Our Assessment:

B : promising beginning, but becomes too convoluted

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Love in the Rain begins promisingly with two young lovers professing their love and looking forward to a life together. In Egypt, after the bitter defeat of 1967, much remains uncertain, and: "But where's the world headed ?" is a common question and concern; love, at least, seems to offer some promise of future and happiness, and Love in the Rain follows the matches and misses of quite a number of characters; "Love isn't the problem", one character claims, but it turns out to be one among many.
       These are far more liberal times; morals are still considered very important, but there's a great deal of personal freedom that many of the characters take advantage of. As one character notes:

Our day is better, since sex is now like air and water !
       Several of the young women are quite experienced, and while there is some concern about appearances it's not unusual for the young women here to visit some of the men on their own. Nevertheless, the old standards still mean something, and it is out of a sense of honor that two of the characters are driven to kill; both homicides are presented as almost impulsive, but there is no question what led the men to the acts.
       There are several couples here, but few are destined for a happy union. There is still fighting going, so one young man is sent to the front and seriously injured there; another, Marzouq, the only son in the family and thus exempt from military duty, is seduced by the offer of a career in acting -- just as he is about to take his first government post. Mazrouq doesn't become a real soldier, but he plays one on the screen; he becomes a star, and eventually leaves his fiancée Aliyat for an actress -- but suffers a setback that destroys his career. Other characters of varying ages mull over who it would be best to marry, moved both by love and other considerations; passion usually only leads to suffering and worse.
       Love in the Rain is extraordinarily busy, a tangle of love stories packed into forty-five chapters in a mere 130 pages. Part of it takes place in the film milieu -- presented here as nearly as decadent as that of old Hollywood -- but especially the younger generation tends to be relatively dutiful and studious; Mazrouq's leap into the unknown -- abandoning the safety of a government job for an acting career -- is far from the only reckless decision made by the characters, but most do look for some sort of safety. (Several also consider emigrating, but nothing much ever comes of simple escape of that sort.)
       Certainly, the novel reflects the Egyptian conditions of the times:
     "We are at the center of the world, so what do we expect ?"
     "Occupation, independence, 1956, Yemen, 1967, occupation !"
       Uncertainty, and the changing social mores -- bubbling under the surface, and occasionally boiling over, to devastating effect -- define these lives. But while Mahfouz has some good ideas -- and offers several finely drawn characters -- there's simply too much packed into this, and too much rushed through. Storylines are rarely allowed to develop fully, and the action flits between too many characters; there isn't one but several novels here, and it's a shame Mahfouz didn't take the space to write them all .....
       Still, parts here are exceptionally well done, and there's certainly a lot to it (though perhaps a bit too much sensationalism -- two murders ! abortion ! lesbianism ! ...), and it's a fairly interesting work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 24 July 2011

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Love in the Rain: Naguib Mahfouz: Other books by Naguib Mahfouz under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz (نجيب محفوظ, Nagib Machfus) was born in 1911 and died in 2006 He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1988.

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