August 29, 2009

Take Me Egypt

Take Me Away Saturday
As a lover of books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures, Take Me Away is a way to share this love with you, my readers and friends!

Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit and a list of the specific cultures, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here is a list of where we've been so far:
Australian Aborigines
Brazil India
Sierra Leone
Sioux Nation Spain
Japan Haiti
Kenya Norway
Taiwan Turkey

This week we are visiting the African country of Egypt. Click on the titles of the books to go to or Barnes & to read reviews and/or purchase the book.

Here is a close-up map of Egypt:
Click here to learn more about Egypt.

The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Place of Desire, & Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
The Nobel Prize—winning writer's masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain's occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century. The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons–the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. Al-Sayyid Ahmad's rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mahfouz's vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician. Throughout the trilogy, the family's trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two World Wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, The Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller. Publisher: Everyman's Library Genre: Fiction

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi
"All the men I did get to know, every single man of them, has filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face. But because I am a woman I have never had the courage to lift my hand. And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up." Saadawi's searing indictment of society's brutal treatment of women continues to resonate today. This classic novel has been an inspiration to countless people across the world. 2007 recipient of The African Literature Association’s Fonlon-Nichols Award, which is given annually to an African writer for excellence in creative writing and for contributions to the struggles for human rights and freedom of expression. Publisher: Zed Books Genre: Fiction

Ancient Egypt by David P. Silverman
Twelve contributing scholars have joined Silverman in writing this lavishly illustrated book that contains 200 color photographs, maps, and charts. Their essays cover such broad subjects as history, geography, legends, archaeology, religion, economy, art, architecture, and language. There are pieces on international trade and travel, farming, hunting, fishing, mining, capital cities, palaces, fortresses, gender and society, mathematics, medicine, magic, the pharaohs, the cosmos, the cult of the dead, ritual games, the pyramids, tombs, temples, the solar cycle, and hieroglyphs. The writing is based on the latest historical research and archaeological finds, offering readers a penetrating look at the daily life of both royalty and commoner. Publisher: Oxford University Press Genre: Nonfiction, Ancient History

Into the Mummy's Tomb, edited by John Richard Stephens
The Mummy. The first thing that comes to mind is the curse...reanimation... and revenge. But what further mysteries are there to be unwrapped in the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians? This exciting anthology features a diverse selection of remarkable talents, from major bestselling authors like Anne Rice (famous for her vampire and mummy novels) and Elizabeth Peters (mystery's master of Egyptology), to all-time favorites such as Bram Stoker (who wrote one of the first mummy novels) and Agatha Christie (queen of the sealed "tomb" mystery). Into the Mummy's Tomb even includes a few surprises-a short story by Tennessee Williams (his first professional sale), an actual translation of a tale written in 300 B.C. by an Egyptian priest, and nonfiction pieces by famous Egyptologist Arthur Weigall and the discoverer of King Tut's tomb, Howard Carter. You never know what you might find when you venture Into the Mummy's Tomb-for century-spanning tales of horror, fantasy, romance, and history. Publisher: Berkley Trade Genre: Anthology Read my review of some selections here.

Warlock by Wilbur Smith
After the death of his beloved Queen Lostris, Taita retreats into the forbidding deserts of North Africa to become a hermit. He devotes himself to the study of the occult, and armed with these extraordinary powers, he gradually transforms into a warlock. After many years, he finally discovers the divine purpose in his bereavement when he is called upon to save the dynasty of Lostris from the clouds of evil that loom over Egypt. Exploding with all the drama and mystery of a bygone time, Warlock is a masterpiece from a storyteller at the height of his powers. Publisher: St. Martin's Press Genre: Thriller

Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Series #1) by William Dietrich
What mystical secrets lie beneath the Great Pyramids? Traveling with Napoleon's ambitious expedition, American adventurer Ethan Gage solves a five-thousand-year-old riddle with the help of a mysterious medallion. William Dietrich's books have been hailed for their vivid imagery, evocative atmospheres, impeccable historical accuracy, and ambitious plots. Now, in the breakout novel of his career, he delivers an enthralling story of intrigue, greed, and danger. Ethan Gage, assistant to Ben Franklin and expatriate American in post-revolutionary France, wins an ancient—and possibly cursed—medallion in a card game one night. It turns out that the medallion, covered in seemingly indecipherable symbols, may be linked to a Masonic mystery. That same night, however, Ethan is framed for a prostitute's murder and barely escapes France with his life. Faced with either prison or death, Gage is offered a third choice: to accompany the new emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, as France sails to conquer Egypt—with Lord Nelson's fleet following close behind. Once Gage arrives, he encounters incredible surprises: one in the form of a beautiful Macedonian slave and another in the dawning knowledge that the medallion may solve one of the greatest riddles of history—who built the Great Pyramids, and why. What is revealed to Gage is more shocking than anyone could ever have imagined. Publisher: HarperCollins Genre: Thriller, Series

The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel by Margaret George
Cleopatra has captivated generations, and this huge novel will ensure additional adulation. Beginning with a memory at age three of witnessing her mother's death and ending with her own suicide, Cleopatra tells her story. Both the telling and the tale are exceptional. George (Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, St. Martin's, 1992) combines history and legend with her own imagination to produce a fascinating portrait. Strangely, some of the more implausible events, such as Cleopatra's being hidden in a rug and taken to Caesar, are fact, not fiction. The graceful use of the language and the intense action make for compelling reading. Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Genre: Fiction

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts. Publisher: Crown Genre: Historical Fiction

The Prince of Egypt: Dreamworks Classics Collection by Jane Yolen
First in the DreamWorks Classics CollectionTM, this big, beautiful storybook is the best way for fans to recapture the magic and grandeur of The Prince of Egypt. Acclaimed author Jane Yolen provides a powerful, finely crafted retelling, that matches the sweep of this groundbreaking film. Each essential scene, from Moses' fateful journey in the basket to the wondrous parting of the Red Sea, is richly retold and stunningly rendered in a storybook that is a fine stand-alone as well as a splendid companion to the film. Adventure, sorrow, mischief, and miracles--all the elements of an epic tale are transferred from screen to page for collectors or any reader to cherish. Publisher: Dutton Juvenile Genre: Children's Books

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list. Do you want to share book recommendations for the country of Egypt? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back next week for another trip in books! Here is what is coming up for the next three Take Me Away Saturday posts:

September 5: The culture of the Inuit People.
September 12: Trio: the countries of Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania
September 19: The Asian country of Vietnam

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:

Cultures Visited:
Sioux Nation
Australian Aborigines


  1. My husband's favourite subject. He loves all books about Egypt. He read all the Wilbur Smith ones.

  2. I have always been captivated by Egypt. It seems to be a natural setting for supernatural themes!

    Thanks for the great collection of books on Egypt!

  3. For some lighter Egypt reads, the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters is funny and exciting. There's a ton of information about history, geography and archaeology in them so they aren't just fluff even though they feel like it.

  4. This is a wonderful experience. I have to go back and read about the other countries to catch up. Thank you for this armchair travel experience.

  5. Another wonderful sounding book goes on the wish list. Napoleons Pyramids sounds like a very enjoyable read to me. Thanks Rebecca for another great Saturday.

  6. This is a great idea Rebecca.You should turn it into a meme please and let me know if you do.I would love to join except my books would have the different little towns but would still be good.

  7. This is so funny--I just finished "Nefertiti" by Michelle Moran (author of the book Cleopatra's Daughter that you mention here) and was so fascinated.

    So, when I went to the library this morning, checked out a whole bunch of Egypt related books which included "The Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt", "Lives of the Ancient Egyptians", "The Mummy in Ancient Egypt", etc. I'm sure the librarian thought I was planning to do a paper on Egypt, LOL. Maybe a blog post in a few weeks, though :-) !

    I also have a trilogy of works by Mahfouz, but they are different books, and it was a really long ago when I read them. The other books you mention look interesting, too!

  8. Vivienne- Oh, cool. I hope he finds some new reading material from the post! Or if he has some to add, please tell him to leave a comment!

    rhapsody- Very true. I am sure there are tons of good ones taking place in Egypt.

    Kristen M.- Thanks for the recommendations!

    tea- I am so glad you enjoyed! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    Kaye- I haven't read that one either. I have it on my TBR now, too!

    Yvette- That's an idea. I will think about that. Thanks. :)

    Valerie- I'd be interested to read that post!

  9. I want to second what Kristen M said. I love Elizabeth Peters, especially the Amelia Peabody books - a light read, but often that's exactly what I need.

  10. Well, I haven't read any novels set in Egypt (since my romance reading days) but I do have an Egyption Princess Barbie. Did you see the Carnival Barbie? Brazil.

    I'll post the Egyptian later today, when I won't disturb my hubby taking a flash picture in the bedroom!

  11. Cleopatra's Daughter looks really good. I'm adding it to my list for the library! Another great Take Me Away post!

  12. How about The Mummy by Anne Rice? Or Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters.


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