A psychological study of the first order with a subtly Freudian flavour, "The Mirage" is the autobiographical account of Kamil Ru'ba, a tortured soul who finds himself struggling unduly to cope with life's challenges. The internal torment and angst that dog him throughout his life and the tragic, ironic turns of events that overtake him as a young man are, to a great extent, the outworkings of his faulty upbringing. At the same time, they work together to drive home the novel's underlying theme: the illusory, undependable nature of the world in which we live and the call to seek, beyond the outward and the ephemeral, that which is inward and enduring. The narrative, full of pathos, draws the reader unwittingly into a vicarious experience of Kamil's agonies and ecstasies. As such, it is a specimen of Mahfouz's prose at its finest.
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He graduated in philosophy from King Fuad University in 1934, and went on to write nearly forty novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988.