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Arabic: najīb mahfūz
He was born into an ordinary family, as the youngest of seven children. While he studied, he wrote for professional journals, and after graduating he started writing fictions and published more than 80 short stories in less than 6 years.
While working at the Ministry of Religious Affairs from 1939 to 1954, he published three volumes of Pharaonic novels. After that he started writing novels of social realism, as well as screenplays for films.
Mahfouz writes in strict Modern Standard Arabic, even dialogs. His style is clear-cut, mainly with stories from everyday life, without much moralizing lectures, free from ideology and seldom with much use of symbolism.
Mahfouz's aim with writing is to tell a good story, to preserve a moment in history and to present true people for readers in a distant future. But Mahfouz have experimented with more complex styles and symbolism, beginning in the 1960s but this production is not counted among his best and has also only managed to reach only a small audience.
His main work is the Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) finished in 1952, but first published in 1956 and 1957. This trilogy has been compared to Dickens and Dostojevskij thanks to the way he depicts the city where the stories takes place, Cairo.
He is the most read Arabic novelist outside the Arabic world, but has had a declining audience in Arab countries. He was honoured with the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. After supporting president Sadat's peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Mahfouz have had his books banned in some Arab countries.
Many of his books have been translated into several languages, including Hebrew.
Mahfouz died on August 30, 2006 while being hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer.