Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature and is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature. He published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career.
Since 1996 the American University in Cairo (AUC) Press the Nobel laureates publisher has presented the annual Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. This award which supports contemporary Arabic literature in translation consists of a silver medal and a cash prize and is presented annually on 11 December, the birthday of Naguib Mahfouz. It is a work written in Arabic that is then translated and published throughout the English-speaking world by AUC Press.
This years award was announced last Thursday as it tradition and the winner is 37-year-old Sudanese writer Hammour Ziada for his novel Shawq al-darwish (The Longing of the Dervish).
The Longing of the Dervish is the tale of a Sudanese slave, Bekhit Mandil, and his beloved, Theodora, a Greek Alexandrian, set against the background of brutal power struggles from the time of the Mahdi revolution to the fall of Khartoum. The love story is the driving force of Ziada’s historical narrative in which he explores sobering themes such as revenge, slavery, and imprisonment, but also betrayal, religious hypocrisy, and racism.
Ziada on winning the award stated that; “It is a great honor for me to win the Mahfouz Medal because I am the first Sudanese to get it.”
His book will now be translated and published in an English-language edition by the AUC Press in Cairo, New York, and London.