Nobel-laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s national treasure, is the central focus of Abu Dhabi’s International Book Fair, as reported by The National News on May 1.

The fair hosts a dedicated exhibition showcasing the life and works of the Egyptian author, alongside exclusive interview footage.

“You can’t think of Egypt without Naguib Mahfouz and vice versa,” said the book fair’s organisation head Berlant Qabeel.

He emphasises Mahfouz’s unparalleled stature as the sole Arab recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, underscoring the intent to honour his enduring legacy and relevance.

“Mahfouz represents the best of Arabic literature and he is the only Arab author to receive the Nobel Prize for literature. So we want to honour his work while showing how it remains relevant today.”

READ: Abu Dhabi’s international book fair to celebrate Egyptian literature

Mahfouz’s profound impact on Arabic literature reverberates through generations, with his distinctive writing style and narrative techniques shaping subsequent Arab writers.

His exploration of Egypt’s social complexities, navigating the tensions between modernity and tradition, as well as the interplay of religion and class struggles, remains central to his works.

Palace Walk, the first novel of the Cairo Trilogy, delves into a social realist interpretation of conservative Egyptian society through the lens of a strict patriarchal family.

Director of Egypt’s library Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ahmed Zayed, explores how Mahfouz’s works “portray beauty and imagination through a philosophical lens, which is exceptional.”

“This is evident in his depiction of societal images, beginning with the neighbourhood. He delves into the conflicts and yearnings for justice and revolution prevalent within it”, he added.

The author’s dedication to documenting extremely detailed views of society at that time render his works, particularly The Cairo Trilogy, as veritable time capsules of Egypt’s tumultuous social evolution in the 20th century.

But Moroccan author and academic Said Bensaid Al Alaoui hesitates to consider the author’s work as historical fiction.

“I have strong reservations regarding that term because the novel, in itself, serves to reflect history and society and Mahfouz’s work does that regardless of its settings,” he said.

It is undoubtable that Naguib Mahfouz’s enduring legacy transcends geographical and temporal boundaries, cementing his status as a literary luminary and cultural icon of the Arab world.


The National News



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