The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988
Born: 11 December 1911, Cairo, Egypt
Died: 30 August 2006, Cairo, Egypt
Residence at the time of the award: Egypt
Prize motivation: “who, through works rich in nuance - now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous - has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”
Prize share: 1/1
Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1911. He came to live in this city his entire life. Parallell with his authorship Mahfouz worked as a civil servant at the culture ministry for many years. From an early age, he was an avid reader. After finishing his secondary education, Mahfouz was admitted to the Cairo University, where he studied philosophy. After graduating in 1934, he decided not to pursue studying, having decided he wanted become a professional writer.
Naguib Mahfouz’ authorship deals with some of life’s fundamental questions, including the passage of time, society and norms, knowledge and faith, reason and love. He often uses his hometown of Cairo as the backdrop for his stories and some of his early works are set in ancient Egypt. Later, the modern age and life in a changing society became the focus of his writing, although some of his later works have a more mystical or metaphysical character. Mahfouz’ body of work comprises more than 30 novels and 350 short stories. Many of his stories have been adapted for film.
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