Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
‘As a citizen Naguib Mahfouz sees civility and the continuity of a transnational, abiding, Egyptian personality in his work as perhaps surviving the debilitating processes of conflict and historical degeneration which he, more than anyone else I have read, has so powerfully depicted.’ – Edward Said

‘One of the greatest creative talents in the realm of the novel in the world.’ – Nadine Gordimer

‘He is not only a Hugo and a Dickens, but also a Galsworthy, a Mann, a Zola, and a Jules Romain.’
London Review of Books

‘Mahfouz embodied the essence of what makes the bruising, raucous, chaotic
human anthill of Cairo possible.’ – The Economist

Mahfouz’s novels helped bring Arabic literature to an international readership. Far fewer people know his nonfiction works, however – a gap that this book fills. Bringing together Mahfouz’s early nonfiction writings (most penned during the 1930s) which have never before been available in English, this volume offers a rare glimpse into the early development of the renowned author.
As these pieces show, Mahfouz was deeply interested in literature and philosophy, and his early writings engage with the origins of philosophy, its development and place in the history of thought, as well its meaning writ large. In his literary essays, he discusses a wide range of authors, from Anton Chekov to his own Arab contemporaries like Taha Hussein. He also ventures into a host of important contemporary issues, including science and modernity, as well as the growing movement for women’s rights in the Arab world.

Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was the most important Arabic writer of his generation. He is the author of over thirty novels, including The Cairo Trilogy and Children of the Alley. In 1988 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.