Derives sur le Nil

by Naguib Mahfouz

Other authorsFrance Delouvier Meyer (Traduction)
Paperback, 1991



Call number




Gallimard (1991), Edition: 1re, 192 pages


First published in 1966, Naguib Mahfouz's Adrift on the Nile is an atmospheric novel that dramatizes the rootlessness of Egypt's cosmopolitan middle class. Anis Zani is a bored and drug-addicted civil servant who is barely holding on to his job. Every evening he hosts a gathering on a houseboat on the Nile, where he and a motley group of cynical and aimless friends share a water pipe full of kif, a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. When a young female journalist--an "alarmingly serious person"--joins them and begins secretly documenting their activities, the group's harmony starts disintegrating, culminating in a midnight joyride that ends in tragedy.

User reviews

LibraryThing member absurdeist
The way the characters are collectively forced to confront the consequences of their actions, steeped as they are in nihilistic philosophy, reminded me a lot of the character Raskolnikov from Crime & Punishment, and the consequences he confronted by committing murder. These aimless, drugged out characters are reminiscent too of the kind of blase creeps Ellis described in Less Than Zero, though Mahfouz is far superior in distinguishing the different layers of degradation of his characters compared to Ellis' (who all look, sound, and act pretty much the same in LTL) and he more artfully too, I would argue, describes the ennui and spiritual malaise affecting these young lives adrift on the Nile.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheWasp
A group of friends spend their leisure time on a house boat on the Nile smoking a water pipe and relaxing into inertia. The fabric of their group changes with the introduction of a friend with differing values. A tragedy shows the fragility of their relationship.
A difficult book to rate. I found the narrative in parts vague, but the messages clear.… (more)
LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
A group of middle age men and women gather on a houseboat every night to drink, shoot the breeze and get high, their lives marked by cynicism and ennui. Into this gathering is introduced a young journalist and aspiring playwright who seeks to overturn their dissolution. A powerful portrait of a group of people adrift in their lives, representative of a society itself adrift and lacking direction.… (more)
LibraryThing member bell7
In the 1960s, a group of friends meet nightly on a houseboat on the Nile and get high. They don't concern themselves with the world around them because doing so will change nothing. Like the houseboat, they drift along, going through the motions of life, but never really getting anywhere. Then a "serious" person appears in their gathering. Will she shake them out of their lethargy?

Perhaps this was not a good choice for me as an introduction to Mahfouz's work. It was written in 1966, and I know little of the time and place described. The characters are distant. Their belief in life's meaningless frustrates me; I want to shake them up, to make them do something. Is that how I was supposed to react? Or was I supposed to agree with them that life is for naught and my ideas, actions, and beliefs do nothing and mean nothing? I'm not sure I know, and that frustrates me too. All in all, it just wasn't the book for me.
… (more)


Original language


Physical description

192 p.; 7.01 inches


2070384233 / 9782070384235
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