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Naguib Mahfouz (1911 - 2006)

Farewell to the great Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz

He won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature for his work 'Cairo Trilogy', which was translated to Hebrew by Sami Michael

(Image: Wikipedia)

Mr. Mahfouz died Wednesday at the age of 94. He  will be buried today after a military funeral at Cairo's al Rashdan Mosque, an honor typically reserved for senior government officials. He was the first Arab writer who supported the peace-agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Naguib Mahfouz (December 11, 1911 - August 30, 2006) was an Egyptian novelist who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Naguib Mahfouz was born in the Gamaliya quarter of Cairo; he was named after Professor Naguib Pasha Mahfouz, the physician who delivered him. A longtime civil servant, Mahfouz served in the Ministry of Mortmain Endowments, then as Director of Censorship in the Bureau of Art, Director of the Foundation for the Support of the Cinema, and, finally, as a consultant to the Ministry of Culture. He published more than 30 novels.

Many of his novels were first published in serialized form, including Children of Gebelawi and Midaq Alley which was adapted into a Mexican film starring Salma Hayek (El callejn de los milagros).

Mahfouz's Nobel Prize Medal (Image: Wikipedia)

Children of Gebelawi (1959), one of Mahfouz's best known works, has been banned in Egypt for alleged blasphemy over its allegorical portrayal of God and the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In 1989, after the fatwa for apostasy against Salman Rushdie, a blind Egyptian theologian, Omar Abdul-Rahman, told a journalist that if Mahfouz had been punished for writing this novel, Rushdie would not have dared publish his. Sheikh Omar has always maintained that this was not a fatwa, but in 1994 Islamic extremists, believing that it had been one, attempted to assassinate the 82-year-old novelist, stabbing him in the neck outside his Cairo home. He survived and lived afterward under constant bodyguard protection. Finally, in the beginning of 2006, the novel was published in Egypt with a preface written by Ahmad Kamal Abu Almajd.

US trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas titled a song on his 2001 album Witness "Mahfouz". The 25-minute piece features singer Tom Waits reading an excerpt from Mahfouz's works.

Due to his outspoken support for President Anwar Sadat's Camp David peace treaty with Israel, his books were banned in many Arab countries. This changed after he won the Nobel prize.

(from Wikipedia)

David Essing

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