I read most of this gorgeous book of Egyptian tales before falling asleep at the repetition and dull English translation. When I began to catalog this for the blog, I found the original translator’s plea for attention on Amazon:
As the translator of Children of Gebelaawi, I cannot decently comment on the quality of Theroux’ version. Some people may like his use of English, which does not appeal to me. I have found various gross errors of translation of the Arabic, but no doubt a careful study of my version would find similar mistakes; neither of us is a native Arabic speaker. However, it does worry me that in some places he has made a mistake that was in my 1981 edition and which I have since corrected; at least one of these is such an improbable ‘howler’ that I cannot believe he did not use my translation. Theroux’ version lacks an introduction, and I consider this a grave lacuna. The history of the book is deeply interesting in itself and needs to be told. The novel also needs some explaining: why did Mahfuz, the deep psychological observer, write a book so apparently lacking in subtlety; and what is the secret message of the book?
In short, read Children of Gebelaawi in lieu of this version and you may spare yourself some eye-ache.
sub=translated by Peter Theroux