Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian writer and novelist, was born on December 11, 1911, in Cairo. His works revolve around the lifestyle of the Egyptian people. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988, making him the only Arab writer to receive this prestigious award.

Naguib began his education at the Kuttab school, then completed his primary and secondary education, developing a growing interest in Arabic literature. The writer who had the most significant impact on him was Hafez Naguib.

In 1930, Naguib Mahfouz enrolled at Cairo University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1934. He continued his studies for a Master’s and a Ph.D. but took a year off to focus on writing and authorship.

Naguib Mahfouz witnessed the 1919 revolution at the age of seven, and it had a profound impact on him and his later writings.

In 1936, he began his professional career as a journalist with Al-Risala newspaper. During this period, he also published some short stories for Al-Ahram and Al-Hilal newspapers. In 1938, he was appointed secretary to the Minister of Islamic Endowments in the Parliament.

In 1945, Naguib Mahfouz joined the staff of the Gouri Library in Cairo and initiated a project called “Al-Qard Al-Hasan.” He explored Western literature during this period.

In the 1950s, he served as the Director of Censorship in the Arts Office and as the Director of the Cinema Support Foundation. His last position in the civil service was as an advisor to the Ministry of Culture.

He published the trilogy envisioning the lives of three generations in Cairo from World War I to 1952, including “Bayn al-Qasrayn,” “Qasr al-Shawq,” and “Al-Sukkariyya.”

In 1959, he published the novel “Children of Our Alley,” which was banned in Egypt due to its content involving the use of the names of religious prophets and delving into religious matters, leading to anger among religious communities. Mahfouz received death threats as a result.

Between 1940 and 1980, around 25 of his literary works were adapted into movie scripts.

In 1971, he was offered a position at Al-Ahram newspaper and continued to write a weekly column. He continued writing for several newspapers until a short time before his death.

In 1988, Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The justification for his win stated that he enriched Arabic literature for fifty uninterrupted years. However, Mahfouz did not travel to Sweden to accept the award in person. Instead, the writer Mohamed Salmawy, accompanied by his daughters, received the award on his behalf and delivered a speech.

Naguib Mahfouz passed away on August 30, 2006, in Cairo at the age of 94.

Awards and Honors:

  • Arabic Language Academy Award for the novel “Khan al-Khalili” in 1946.
  • State Appreciation Award in Literature in 1968.
  • Grand Nile Necklace Award in 1988.
  • Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988.
  • Presidential Medal and Honorary Doctorate from the American University in 1989.
  • Mubarak Literature Award from the Supreme Council of Culture in 1999.
  • Honorary Membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2002.
  • Kavafis Award in 2004.

Books Written by Naguib Mahfouz