The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006)

Naguib Mahfouz was born on December 11, 1911, in the old Gamaliya quarter of Cairo. He began writing in primary school, when he was a fan of detective, historical, and adventure novels. In secondary school he moved on to the innovators of Arabic fiction—Taha Hussein, Muhammed Husayn Haykal, Ibrahim al-Mazini—who served him as models for the short story.

Mahfouz received the Egyptian State Prize twice for his writings. In 1988 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish Academy of Letters, in its citation for the prize, noted that Mahfouz “through works rich in nuance—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind.”

He published 35 novels, over 350 short stories, 26 movie scripts, hundreds of op-ed columns for Egyptian newspapers, and seven plays over a 70-year career, from the 1930s until 2004.

In 2011, the AUC Press celebrated the centenary of the Egyptian Nobel laureate’s birth.

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 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, consisting of a cash prize of US $5,000, and the translation and publication of the winning novel throughout the English-speaking world, is presented biennially on 11 December, the birthday of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, by the president of the American University in Cairo in the presence of the Egyptian minister of culture and many other prominent leaders of Egypt’s cultural life.

The award is open to contemporary novels, written and published in Arabic anywhere in the world, with a copyright date of 2022 or 2023, which have not yet been translated and published in English.