These stories telescope epic tales into tersely haunting miniatures. A man finds his neighborhood has turned into a circus, but his joy turns to anger when he cannot escape it. An obscure writer finally achieves fame-through the epitaph on his grave. A group of friends telling jokes in an alley face the murderous revenge of an ancient Egyptian queen. Figures from Mahfouz's past-women he loved, men who inspired him, even fictional characters from his own novels-float through tales dreamed by a mind too fertile ever to rest, even in sleep.