On This Day: 30th August 2006, Egyptian novelist and screenplay writer, Naguib Mahfouz Abdelaziz Ibrahim Ahmed Al-Basha died at the age of 94. He was survived by a wife and two daughters.
Mahfouz was born on December 11, 1911 to a lower-middle class family. Mahfouz’s childhood was greatly influenced by the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, where he witnessed British soldiers attacking civilians. Mahfouz studied philosophy at Cairo University in 1934, published his first novel in 1939 and served in the Egyptian civil service until 1971.
Many of Mahfouz’s works are set in Cairo. His most famous work, The Cairo Trilogy, analyzes the psychological impact of social change on multiple generations. Inspired by Sir Walter Scott, Mahfouz attempted to cover Egypt’s entire history in a few books.
His interests later shifted from history to current socio-political issues, which included ‘controversial’ topics like homosexuality, socialism and theology. Influenced by modernist authors such as James Joyce and Franz Kafka, his works explored Egypt’s development in the twentieth century.
Mahfouz’s works were criticized regularly. One of his most famous books, The Children of Gebelawi, was considered blasphemous and was banned in all Islamic countries except Lebanon.
In 1988, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first writer from an Arabic-speaking country to win the prestigious award.
Over a 70-year career, Mahfouz published 34 novels, 350 short stories and five plays, many of which have since been adapted into movies. He is regarded as one of the earliest contemporary writers of Arabic literature, with many of his works containing political and philosophical ideas.
Mahfouz died on 30 August 2006, after he was hospitalized for a head injury he had sustained a few weeks prior.