Adrift on the Nile
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.