Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

The Sheltered Quarter: A Tale of a Boyhood in Mecca

By Hamza Bogary
Translated by Olive Kenny and Jeremy Reed
Introduction by William Ochsenwald (1991)

CoverHamza Bogary describes a bygone way of life that has now irreversibly disappeared. He speaks of life in Mecca before the advent of oil. Only partly autobiographical, the memoir is nevertheless rich in remembered detail based on Bogary's early observations of life in Mecca. He has transformed his knowledge into art through his sense of humor, empathy, and remarkable understanding of human nature.

This work not only entertains; it also informs its readers about the Arabia of the first half of the twentieth century in a graphic and fascinating way. The narrator, young Muhaisin, deals with various aspects of Arabian culture, including education, pilgrimages, styles of clothing, slavery, public executions, the status of women, and religion. Muhaisin is frank in his language and vivid in his humor. The reader quickly comes to love the charming and mischievous boy in this universal tale.

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