Naguib Mahfouz

(1911—2006) Egyptian novelist and short-story writer

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Egyptian novelist and writer; the first Arabic writer to receive the NobelPrize for Literature (1988).

Educated at Cairo University, Mahfouz followed his father into the Egyptian civil service in 1934, serving in the department of arts and censorship and becoming director of the state cinema organization. His early novels, published in the 1940s, were historical works set in ancient Egypt but he soon turned to contemporary themes. In 1956–57 he produced his most celebrated work, the Cairo Trilogy of novels, comprising Palace Walk, The Palace of Desire, and The Sugar Bowl. The books, which cover a time span from World War I to the 1950s, describe the interlocking destiny of several Cairo families against a background of momentous historical and social change and have won their author comparisons with Galsworthy, Proust, and Tolstoy.

In 1959 Mahfouz published his most controversial work, The Children of Gebelawi; owing to its treatment of Mohammed and other religious figures the book was banned by the Muslim authorities in Egypt for many years. His later novels include The Thief and the Dogs (1961), The Beggar (1965), amd Miramar (1967). He has also produced numerous short stories and screenplays.

Subjects: Literature — Religion.

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