Today marks the death anniversary of the iconic Arab novelist of his century, Naguib Mahfouz.
The author, whose prolific career saw a number of novels, short stories, and articles, passed away in 2006. He is survived by his two daughters, Fatima and Umm Kalthum.
Mahfouz’s seminal work has inspired generations of writers. The subtle genius of his series and movies has left a distinctive mark on the Arab world.
Born in Cairo, on December 11, 1911, Mahfouz was an Egyptian novelist, journalist, and author of several short stories, who was one of Arab’s most popular writers.
He was well-known for his critical, realistic, and centrist approach to controversial topics like social equality and political global changes.
Moreover, his stories encompassed many relevant issues including poverty, injustice and crime, almost always with a twist of humor.
Not someone who was afraid to speak his mind, he gave some of the most captivating nostalgic stories that are still regarded to be masterpieces.
Author of popular short stories and novels such as, Khan al-Khalili (1945), Midaq Alley (1947), The Mirage (1948), The Beginning and the End (1950), Palace Walk (1956), (Cairo Trilogy, Part 1), Palace of Desire (1957), (Cairo Trilogy, Part 2), Sugar Street (1957), (Cairo Trilogy, Part 3), Children of Gebelawi (1959), The Thief and the Dogs.
Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988, becoming the first Arabic-language writer to receive the prize.
Half of his remarkable novels have been made into movies that have circulated throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
In Egypt, each new publication is regarded as a major cultural event and his name is inevitably among the first mentioned in any literary discussion from the Mediterrane Sea to the Indian Ocean.
It’s worth mentioning that “The Palace of Desire,” is the screen adaptation of his seminal works during the 1950s era.
He was the people’s writer, and that’s how he will stay, how he will remain in their hearts and in their memories forever.
- Here are a few quotes by the late Mahfouz to mull over:
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
“There are no heroes in most of my stories. I look at our society with a critical eye and find nothing extraordinary in the people I see.”
“I believe society has a right to defend itself, just as the individual has the right to attack that with which he disagrees.”
“The Arab world also won the Nobel with me. I believe that international doors have opened, and that from now on, literate people will consider Arab literature also. We deserve that recognition.”
“We used the Western style to express our own themes and stories. But don’t forget that our heritage includes The Thousand and One Nights.”
“The criminal is trying to solve his immediate problems.”
“If we reject science, we reject the common man.”