The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature



Naguib Mahfouz Medal submissions now closed & award postponed


Due to the unprecedented volume of entries for the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature this year, and the limitations on reviewing those entries imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret to announce that the awarding of the Mahfouz Medal—normally scheduled for December 2020—is likely to be severely delayed this year.

Please note that submissions for the Naguib Mahfouz Medal closed on 1 March, 2020.








The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature Criteria and Eligibility

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature consists of a silver medal, a cash prize worth 5,000 US Dollars, and publication worldwide in English translation by the AUC Press.

The Medal is awarded annually, and submissions for the 2020 Medal will be open from 11 December 2019 until 1 March 2020.

Rules of entry and eligibility:

  •  The award is open to contemporary novels, written and published in Arabic. Novellas, short stories collections, or poetry collections are not eligible.
  • Only novels published in the last two years, between 1 March 2018 and 1 March 2020, are eligible.
  • Self-published novels are not eligible.
  • Submissions may be made by the author or the publisher.
  • A publisher must have been publishing books for a minimum of three years to be eligible to submit a novel for the award.
  • The author must be living at the time of submission.
  • By submitting a novel, the author or publisher (depending on who holds the English language rights) are considered to have agreed that, in the event of their novel winning, it will be translated into English and published worldwide by the AUC Press.
  • By submitting a novel, the author is considered to have agreed to be available for promotional activities such as media appearances related to the award and/or necessary travel within the Arab world.
  • The AUC Press reserves the right to reject any submission that doesn’t comply with the rules of entry.
  • The judging panel’s decision is final.
  • The judges have the right to consider any novel published in the above time frame that has not been submitted for the award. In this event, the publisher will be notified and copies of the book and application form requested.

How to submit:

  • Six copies of the published book must be sent to the below address, to arrive no later than 1 March 2020:

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature
ATTN: Ms. Katherine McMahon
The American University in Cairo Press
AUC Tahrir Campus
113 Kasr El Aini Street
P.O. Box 2511, Cairo 11511

  • The application form and a recent photograph of the author must also be submitted. These can be sent as hard copy with the physical copies of the books, or by email.
  • Digital copies of books will not accepted.

With plans for the future of the award already in motion, the decision has been made not to announce a winner for the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature this year. Submissions for the award made by authors and publishers for 2019 will be automatically rolled over to next year’s award.

About the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature 

Since 1996 the AUC Press has presented the annual Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, a major award in support of contemporary Arabic literature in translation.

The award, consisting of a silver medal and a cash prize, as well as translation and publication throughout the English-speaking world, is presented annually on 11 December, the birthday of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, by the President of the American University in Cairo in the presence of the Minister of Culture and many other prominent leaders of Egypt’s cultural life.

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature is awarded for the best contemporary novel published in Arabic (but not yet in English) in the last two years and is selected every fall by the Mahfouz Award Committee, which includes Ibrahim Nasrallah, acclaimed writer, novelist, and literary critic; Hebba Sherif, writer, literary critic, and cultural consultant; Samah Selim, translator and associate professor of Arabic language and literature at Rutgers University in the US; Shereen Abouelnaga, literary critic and professor of English and comparative literature at Cairo University; and Humphrey Davies, award-winning translator of Arabic literature into English.  The award-winning book is subsequently translated and published in an English-language edition by the AUC Press in Cairo, New York, and London.

Welcoming the award, Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz said: “The announcement of this award honoring writers and literature is the most pleasurable event on my birthday. I hope that this prize will also help to discover new talents in Arabic literature and introduce them to readers around the world.”

The American University in Cairo Press is the primary English-language publisher of Naguib Mahfouz and has published or licensed some 600 foreign-language editions of the Nobel laureate’s works in 40 languages.

The 24 winners of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature since its inauguration include 10 women, 14 men; 12 Egyptians (2 posthumously), 3 Palestinians, 1 Algerian, 2 Lebanese, 1 Moroccan, 2 Syrians, 1 Iraqi, 1 Sudanese, and 1 Saudi Arabian.

2018: Omaima Al-Khamis, Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Agate
2017: Huzama Habayeb, Velvet
2016: Adel Esmat, Tales of Yusuf Tadrus
2015: Hassan Daoud, No Road to Paradise
2014: Hammour Ziada, The Longing of the Dervish
2013: Khaled Khalifa, No Knives in the Kitchens of This City
2012: Ezzat El Kamhawi, House of the Wolf
2011: The Revolutionary Literary Creativity of the Egyptian People
2010: Miral al-Tahawy, Brooklyn Heights
2009: Khalil Sweileh, Writing Love
2008: Hamdi Abu Golayyel, A Dog with No Tail
2007: Amina Zaydan, Red Wine
2006: Sahar Khalifeh, The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant
2005: Yusuf Abu Rayya, Wedding Night
2004: Alia Mamdouh, The Loved Ones
2003: Khairy Shalaby, The Lodging House
2002: Bensalem Himmich, The Polymath
2001: Somaya Ramadan, Leaves of Narcissus
2000: Hoda Barakat, The Tiller of Waters
1999: Edwar al-Kharrat, Rama and the Dragon
1998: Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Memory in the Flesh
1997: Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah, and Yusuf Idris, City of Love and Ashes
1996: Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, The Other Place; and Latifa al-Zayyat, The Open Door