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From the underbelly of Cairo, Othman Bayyumi, previously forced to leave his school education, is employed by the civil service at the lowest possible post. Certain he can achieve greater things; Othman is consumed by the desire to lead the company for which no sacrifice as too great. Having lost the love of his life, he finds little point in investing in any relationship for fear of distraction from his aims. Othman decides to live an almost ascetic lifestyle with breaks in between as he denies himself the emotional pleasures of life but guiltily indulges in the physical. He hides future marriages from his colleagues, resists advances in friendship, pursues only beneficial acquaintances and only educates himself in arts advantageous to his post. In order to satisfy his fanatical belief in ‘the system’ he refuses to accept that he too suffers from the human urge for love, affection, friendship and happiness. Respected Sir is a short, moralistic story which pushes the reader to evaluate the necessities in his or her life. A interesting exploration into human nature, religion, society and culture.

This is not Naguib Mahfouz’s best book in my opinion and it left me wanting a little more, despite this, it is certainly worth reading.

3/5

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