Meet the Judging Panel: The 2024 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

Sarah Enany (chair of the panel) is an Egyptian literary translator and a professor in the English Department of Cairo University. She is a recipient of the Banipal Prize for Literary Translation for her translation of The Girl with Braided Hair (Hoopoe Fiction, 2020). She has translated several operas including the acclaimed sung versions of Les Miserables and Mozart’s The Magic Flute into Egyptian Arabic, and Sayed Higab’s libretto for the opera Miramar into English. She is also the translator of Witness to War and Peace: Egypt, the October War, and Beyond, The Book Smuggler, and the Jewish Muslim trilogy (all AUC Press). She lives in Cairo.

Ahmed Taibaoui is a writer and a professor at the Faculty of Economics, Business, and Management Sciences at the University of Bouira in Algeria. He won the prize for best Arabic novel at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2023 for Bab al-wadi (Door of the Valley), the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2021 for Ikhtifa‘ al-sayyid la ‘ahad (The Disappearence of Mr Nobody), the Tayeb Salih International Prize for Written Creativity in 2014 for his novel Mawt na‘im (Death of a Sleeper), as well as the President of the Republic Award for Young Innovators (2011) for his novel al-Maqam al-‘ali (The High Eminence). He lives in Algiers.

Kay Heikkinen is an American translator and academic who holds a PhD from Harvard University. She was previously Ibn Rushd Lecturer of Arabic at the University of Chicago. Among other books, she has translated Naguib Mahfouz’s In the Time of Love, Radwa Ashour’s The Woman From Tantoura, and Huzama Habayeb’s Velvet, for which she was awarded the 2020 Saif-Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Youssef Rakha is an Egyptian novelist, poet and essayist, born in 1976, who writes in both Arabic and English, thinking about Egypt, Arabs, and Islam. He is the author of the novel The Crocodiles (Seven Stories Press) and the essay Barra and Zaman (Palgrave), among many other books. Born and raised in Cairo, where he still lives, he graduated from Hull University, England, in 1998. He has worked as a cultural journalist, literary translator, and creative writing coach since then. His first novel to be written in English, The Dissenters, is forthcoming with Graywolf Press in 2025. 

Maysa Zaki is a literary and theater critic with over thirty years’ experience in her field. A graduate of the Higher Institute for Artistic Criticism, she has worked as managing editor of the Egyptian theater magazine al-Masrah and written widely on theater and literary criticism. She is the author of books, her first book was entitled Munamnamat Masrahiya (Theatrical Miniatures), as well as articles in specialized periodicals such as Adab wa Naqd and al-Thaqafa al-Jadida and cultural columns in weeklies such as al-Qahira and Al-Ahaly.