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Naguib Mahfouz

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1988

Born: 11/12/1911 in Cairo, Egypt

Died: 30/08/2006 in Cairo, Egypt

Citizen: Egyptian

Language: Arabic

Influence: Hafiz Najib, Taha Hussein, Salama Moussa

Marriage: Married a Muslim woman Atiya at the age of 43.

 Naguib Pasha Mahfouz was born to a lower middle-class family and was the youngest child of his parents. He was named after the surgeon who delivered him. His father was a Civil Servant and he himself joined Egyptian Civil Service and served till 1972. His final assignment was Consultant to Ministry of Culture. As a child, his mother would often take him to Museums and the fleeting history of the land would often be the sub conscious theme of his works as also the surrounding of the Cairo suburb Abbasiyah where he spent most interesting part of his life. His upbringing was strictly Islamic and he himself wondered in later years how such an ambience produced a writer.

 In 1918, the First World War War ended and there was massive unrest in Egypt to free the country from the clutches of the British. Egyptian Revolution of 1919 erupted in full swing and the Young Mahfouz would very often quietly watch the commotion in the streets from his window and firing by British soldiers upon the demonstrators. The events of the revolution had a deep impact on him.

   Mahfouz was inclined to writing from his young days. His famous Cairo Trilogy, Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street were penned in 1950s. Since then, he has produced 34 novels and nearly 350 short stories.

 Mahfouz believed in Freedom of Speech. When Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verse was in the midst of a raging controversy, Mahfouz decried the contents of the book but defended Rushdie and also decried the fatwa against Rushdie. This angered the Islamic Fundamentalists who were after his blood. Added to this was the controversy surrounding his own novel, Children of Gebelawi. In 1994, Islamic extremists stabbed him fatally in neck outside his Cairo home and almost succeeded in assassinating him. The incident  permanently damaged his vital nerves and he could not write more than few minutes at a time. He also was given police protection and mostly was confined to his home. His writing pace also practically came to a standstill.

In the month of July, 2006, he had a bad fall & sustained injuries in head and was hospitalized. A few days later, he breathed his last. Mahfouz was given funeral with state honor.

    Landmarks: 3rd recipient of the Prize for writing in Asiatic language, the first being Rabindranath Tagore(1913, Bengali) followed by Yasunari Kwabata(1968,Japanese). He is the only Arabic writer to have received the prize as on June 2013. Prior to his death, he was the oldest living Nobel Laureate and third oldest of all time trailing only Bertrand Russel & Haldor Laxness. He is the second African writer to get the Prize in literature after Wole Soyinka (1986) of Nigeria.

Notable Works: Midaq Alley(1947) ;Al-Serab- The Mirage(1948), Palace Walk(1956); Palace of Desire(1957) ;Sugar Street(1957);Children of Gebelawi(1959) ;Al-Liss wal Kilab- The Thief and the Dog(1961), Fountain & Tomb(1988); Echoes of an Autobiography(1994); The Devil Preaches(1979); Love above the Pyramid Plateau(1979)

Naguib Mahfouz

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