The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature


* * * The 2019 Award * * * 

In keeping with the forward-looking aims of the 2019–20 celebrations of the American University in Cairo, and anticipating the sixtieth anniversary of the American University in Cairo Press in 2020–21, AUC Press is working to develop the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature further, in order to enhance the prize’s prestigious international reputation in promoting Arabic fiction in translation around the world.

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 this year will be automatically rolled over to next year’s award.

Further information concerning the new submissions’ requirements and changes to the award will be announced soon.

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