Adrift on the Nile by Naguib Mahfouz
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.