MOHAMED MUSTAGAB was born in the Upper Egyptian town of Dayrut in 1938. He received little formal education but secured a post at the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo and rose to the position of general director. He published his first short story in the magazine al-Hilal in 1968 and continued to write prolifically throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, receiving numerous prizes over the course of his long career. From the Secret Life of Numan Abdel Hafez was awarded the State Incentive Prize in 1984 and was chosen as one of the top hundred novels from the Arab world in the last century. Mohamed Mustagab died in 2006. HUMPHREY DAVIES is the translator of Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building and Friendly Fire (AUC Press, 2008) and Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun, for which he was awarded the Banipal Prize for Literary Translation. He was awarded the 2010 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Yalo by Elias Khoury.