- Title: EGYPT: Egypt Nobel prize winning author Naguib Mahfouz dies aged 94
- Date: 31st August 2006
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (FILE - 2003) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF OFFICIALS AND WRITERS FROM THE ITALIAN BASED MEDITERRANEAN ACADEMY WITH MAHFOUZ AT HIS HOUSE VARIOUS OF ACADEMY OFFICIAL PRESENTING THE 2003 ACADEMY AWARD TO MAHFOUZ
- Embargoed: 15th September 2006 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA3ND7GOGIH6PLA3IJ8BJ6B476Y
- Story Text: Nobel Literature Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz died on Wednesday (August 30), after suffering from a bleeding ulcer, the state MENA news agency reported.
94-year-old Mahfouz had been in intensive care since suffering a sudden drop in blood pressure and kidney dysfunction. He was hospitalised on July 19 after he fell in the street and sustained a deep head wound that required immediate surgery.
The Egyptian author won the Nobel Prize in 1988 and he is best known for his Cairo Trilogy.
Mahfouz, surprise winner of the 1988 Nobel literature prize, became a literary force when he moved beyond traditional novels to realistic descriptions of Egypt's 20th century experience with colonialism and autocracy.
Declared an infidel by Muslim militants because of his portrayal of God in one of his novels, Mahfouz escaped an attack on his life in 1994 when he was stabbed in the neck. He spent seven weeks in hospital and the knife damaged a nerve, seriously impairing his ability to use his writing hand.
"The attack was a surprise, not expected, I hope that the security force will win the war on terror and clean the country from this devil because it is against the people, the freedom and Islam," Mahfouz said after the attack.
The Egyptian novelist was the first writer in Arabic to win the Nobel award.
While he has rarely been seen in public in recent years due to his failing health, he condemned the 2001 U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks as a "despicable crime".
In January 2003, he spent several days in intensive care in a Cairo hospital with a chest infection.
Meeting reporters in his apartment in the Cairo suburb of Giza to mark his 90th birthday in December 2001, Mahfouz struggled to hear and see those to gathered to greet him.
Although the world's most prestigious literary award gave him 2.2 million Swedish crowns (390,000 U.S. dollars), money was not the driving force in a prolific career embracing novels, short stories and film scripts. Mahfouz said after winning the prize that he would give the proceeds to his two daughters.
Mahfouz was the son of a merchant, and the youngest son in a family of four sisters and two brothers.
He obtained his philosophy degree from Cairo University at the age of 23, at a time when many Egyptians had only a primary education. He worked in the government's cultural section until retiring in 1971.
He was also director-general of the Cinema Organisation of Egypt, responsible for the country's movie industry.
When he started writing, the novel was still struggling to establish itself in a world where poetry had for centuries been the main field for Arab men of letters, and his first novels followed in the steps of his predecessors.
By 1944, he had published five books -- three traditional historical novels drawing on the Pharaonic legacy, a collection of short stories and a book entitled "Ancient Egypt".
But fame came with his treatment of Egypt under the British occupation and then the autocratic rule of President Gamal Abdel Nasser following the 1952 revolution.
His book "New Cairo" published in 1945 switched to a realistic approach and began a trend that critics say started a new school of Arab writing. He wrote in simple prose, sometimes in semi-colloquial Arabic.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None