cover image The Thief and the Dogs

The Thief and the Dogs

Naguib Mahfouz, Najib Mahfuz. Doubleday Books, $16.95 (158pp) ISBN 978-0-385-26461-7

Out of prison for less than a day, thief Said Mahran quickly resumes his old ways, and worse. Angered by his young daughter's refusal to even shake hands with the parent she has not seen in four years, and by the chilly reception from Rauf Ilwan, a former colleague in crime whom he suspects of having betrayed him to the police, Mahran goes berserk and seeks revenge with a gun. But this onetime Robin Hood (an ardent nationalist, he stole only from ``people who deserved to be robbed'') accidentally murders two innocents instead of his intended victims, the new husband of his ex-wife and Ilwan. Pursued by the press and the police, he finds refuge with a prostitute he knows; her flat has a view of a cemetery. The Nobel laureate writes here with remarkable clarity and eloquence. His tale of the haunted, hunted Mahran feverish and suspenseful, introspective and subtle. In just 176 pages, he offers a complex psychological portrait of a man hell-bent on ruining himself. This 1961 novel was previously published in the U.S. in a limited edition. (Oct.)