‘He [was] not only a Hugo and a Dickens, but also a Galsworthy, a Mann, a Zola, and a Jules Romain.’
London Review of Books
The Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was the father of the Arabic novel. Born in the old quarter of the Jamaliyya in Cairo, the traditional neighbourhood played an important role in his earlier realistic novels such as Midaq Alley and The Cairo Trilogy, and as a metaphor for Egyptian society in later works such as Children of the Alley and The Harafish. He established an international reputation and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, but accusations of a blasphemous portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in Children of the Alley lead to a fatwa against him by Islamic extremists, and he was seriously injured in an assassination attempt in 1994.
This book, written by an expert in Arabic literature, is the first biography of Mahfouz to be published since his death in 2006, and is a fascinating study of the author who brought Middle-Eastern fiction onto the world stage in the 20th century.
RASHEEED EL-ENANY is Professor of Modern Arabic Literature in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the author Arab Representations of the Occident: East-West Encounters in Arabic Fiction (2006), Naguib Mahfouz: The Pursuit of Meaning (1993) and translator of Mahfouz’s Respected Sir (1986).