For Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Cairo has always been a place of special resonance. As the place in which he was born and has lived his whole life, it is a city he loves passionately and has visited and revisited in his writing. It is the setting for nearly all his novels and short stories, not merely as a backdrop but as an integral part of his fiction, playing its own role in the dramas. The old streets of the Cairo Trilogy and the microcosmic cul-de-sac of Midaq Alley become fictional characters as fascinating as the human ones for Naguib Mahfouz. A longtime admirer of the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, photographer Britta Le Va discovered old Cairo through his works. Here, she guides us through his pages, and treads his streets and alleys, to produce a collection of outstanding visual images of the historic city. Each complements a verbal image selected from Mahfouz’s writings. In his introduction, novelist Gamal al-Ghitani describes a walking tour with the great man around the streets of Gamaliya, that historic heart of the old city where both of them—more than thirty years apart—were born and grew up. Along the way, Mahfouz reminisces and remarks on what had changed and what had not in eight decades.
The Cairo of Naguib Mahfouz
For Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Cairo has always been a place of special resonance. As the place in which he was born and has lived his whole life,
Britta Le Va is a photographer based in New York.
To read an interview with German-born photographer about her book, The Cairo of Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press, 2012), click here.
Gamal al-Ghitani (1945–2015) was an Egyptian novelist, literary editor, political commentator, and public intellectual. He published over a dozen novels, including Zayni Barakat (AUC Press, 2004) and The Zafarani Files (AUC Press, 2009), as well as several collections of short stories. He was also founding editor of the literary magazine, Akhbar al-adab (1993–2011). He was awarded the Egyptian State Prize for the Novel (1980), the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France (1987), and the Egyptian State Prize for Literature (2007). In 2015, he received the Nile Award in Literature, Egypt’s highest literary honor.
Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Read more about his life and his work.