The "tall, thin, dark-faced café owner" with a penchant for hashish (5). He is often embroiled in scandals, stemming for his inability to control his desires. He deals narcotics and seduces young boys. He fights with his family a lot, especially with his wife, Mrs. Kirsha. He also frequently butts heads with his son, Hussain Kirsha, who wants a life outside Midaq Alley.
The obese, bald sweets-seller who owns one of the shops on Midaq Alley. He is in bad shape, and tired all the time. Although he is famous for his artistry in sweet-making, he does not have much money. He and Abbas are very close friends, almost family.
The barber and proprietor of the barbershop in Midaq Alley. Abbas is close friends with and sometimes rival to Hussain Kirsha, with whom he grew up. He and Uncle Kamil are like brothers. Abbas is quiet and gentle, and avoids fights. All he has ever wanted is to marry Hamida and to live quietly in Midaq Alley, but he goes off to work for the British Army so he can earn enough money to afford a marriage with her.
The owner of the large company office on Midaq Alley. He is well built with a large Circassian mustache. He lives in a large house in Hilmiya. He believes that a good businessman "must always keep his eyes open," and has built a successful company through such diligence (62). Though he has lived his entire life in the alley, he does not like most of its inhabitants. He has a voracious sexual appetite which his wife is increasingly unable to match, and is frustrated by his three sons. He has an intense lust for Hamida, which is ceded by his heart attack.
A dental surgeon who charges low fees for services and plates. He has no formal training, but did study as an assistant to a dentist in the Gamaliya District. He lives in an apartment in Mrs. Saniya Afify's building, and is engaged in a variety of shady dealings with Zaita.
Umm Hamida's beautiful but proud foster daughter. Her real mother was Umm Hamida's business partner and roommate, who died, after which Umm Hamida adopted her. She is driven by an ambition for wealth and status, which leads her first into an engagement with Abbas and then later into more salacious dealings with the pimp Ibrahim Faraj.
A resident of Midaq Alley renowned for his piety and wisdom. Having lost his many children and a chance to earn a university degree, Hussainy now dedicates himself to a simple and unwavering faith. Many alley residents seek advice from him. His only significant flaw is mistreatment of his wife.
The son of Kirsha, and a good friend of Abbas. A proud boy in his 20s, known for his wit, his arrogance, and the wealth he has recently made by working for the British Army. Critics of his ostentatious ways call him "Hussain Kirsha the Large," or "Hussain Kirsha the Garage" (34). He finally leaves Midaq Alley to work again for the British Army, but comes back married and broke after the Allies start defeating Hitler's army.
A statuesque man who often seems lost in a stupor. In his youth, he taught English in an religious foundation school and was the head of a happy family, but his sanctimony and pride led to bitterness that lost him both job and family. He now wanders the streets dressed in a suit, muttering either Islamic thought or words in English. He is beloved in the alley and in Kirsha's café, where he spends much of his time.
Mrs. Saniya Afify
A 50 year old woman who owns the second house on the alley, and lives on its third floor. She was once married to the owner of a perfume shop, but it was a terrible marriage that cost her most of her savings. She has since become a miser, but in the novel asks Umm Hamida to help her find a new husband.
The second floor tenant of Mrs. Saniya Afify's house. She is a marriage broker in her mid-60s, and is know for being a "shrewd and talkative" gossip (16). She often fights with her foster daughter Hamida.
The bakeress who beats her husband, Jaada. She allows Zaita the cripple-maker to rent space off their bakery.
The young water at Kirsha's cafe.
The Baker, Husniya's husband. A tall, cowardly and stupid man who frequently burns the bread and engages in petty thievery, he is punished by his wife's constant beatings.
The cripple-maker who rents a little outbuilding off of Husniya and Jaada's bakery. For a fee and a cut of their earnings, he maims or faux-maims men or women who want to become beggars but need a handicap to justify it. His own parents were beggars, and he worked for a traveling circus, where he first learned the art of deception. He works almost exclusively at night, and engages with Dr. Booshy in a number of shady dealings. He hates most of the inhabitants of the alley.
The middle-class, dapper 'mystery man' who appears in Midaq Alley during Ibrahim Farhat's campaign rally, and sets his sights on Hamida. He turns out to be a pimp who runs a high-end whorehouse. He pretends to be in love with Hamida, in order to recruit her as a prostitute, but earns her ire when he confesses the ruse.
Kirsha's wife, a strong 50 year-old woman. She has a temper, and often fights loudly with Kirsha.
The wife of Radwan Hussainy. She is in her mid-40s, thin and worn. She is melancholy from a difficult life that cost her all her children, and from the mistreatment she suffers at the hands of her husband.
A merchant on Nahasin Street who runs for political office and hosts a campaign event near the alley. He is short and stocky, and as a businessman, is known to be very stingy.
The Kirshas have 6 daughters, all of whom are involved in troubled marriages. None of them have divorced, though. One daughter ran away from her marriage, and ended up in prison with the man whom she had run to.
The manager of Salim Alwan's company, and a heavy smoker.
The Old Poet
He plays his two-stringed fiddle in Kirsha's cafe, much to Kirsha's dismay. He has a young son, and resents the fact that there is little demand for public reciters.
Hussain Kirsha's wife.
Hussain Kirsha's brother-in-law, to whom Kirsha becomes attracted.
the young salesman
The young man whom Kirsha seduces. He and Kirsha spend time together until Mrs. Kirsha beats the young man.
Midaq Alley Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Midaq Alley is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.