When Naguib Mahfouz quit his job as a civil servant in 1971, a Nobel Prize in literature was still off on the horizon, as was his global recognition as the central figure of Arab literature. He was just beginning his post on the editorial staff of the Egyptian newspaper "Al-Ahram," and elsewhere in Cairo, Anwar Sadat was just beginning his hugely transformative Egyptian presidency, which would span eleven years and come to be known as the Sadat era. This book offers English-language readers the first glimpse of the Sadat era through Mahfouz s eyes, a collection of pieces that captures one of Egypt s most important decades in the prose of one of the Middle East s most important writers. This volume stitches together a fascinating and vivid account of the dramatic events Sadat s era, from his break with the Soviet Union to the Yom Kippur War with Israel and eventual peace accord and up to his assassination by Islamic extremists in 1981. Through this tumultuous history, Mahfouz takes on a diverse array of political topics including socioeconomic stratification, democracy and dictatorship, and Islam and extremism which are still of crucial relevance to Egypt today.Clear-eyed and direct, the works illuminate Mahfouz s personal and political convictions that were more often hidden in his novels, enriching his better-known corpus with social, political, and ideological context.
These writings are a rare treasure, a story of a time of tremendous social and political change in the Middle East told by one if its most iconic authors."
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) is regarded by many as the greatest Arabic writer of the twentieth century. Born in the old Islamic Quarter of Cairo in 1911, he began writing when he was seventeen before entering university to study as a student of philosophy in 1930. He is the author of over thirty novels - including a number of masterpieces, such as The Cairo Trilogy and Children of the Alley - as well as numerous screenplays and essays. In 1988 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.Rasheed El-Enany is Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, as well as Professor Emeritus of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Exeter. He has authored several books on Naguib Mahfouz, including Naguib Mahfouz: His Life and Times. He is also the translator of the Mahfouz novel Respected Sir.Aran Byrne is an Arabic language graduate of SOAS (University of London) and Oxford University. He was co-translator of Democracy Is the Answer by the best-selling Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany.