Ahmed Taibaoui’s The Disappearance of Mr. Nobody was announced as the winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature 2021 on April 1, 2021.

The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature is a literary award for Arabic literature given to the best contemporary novel written in Arabic, but not available in English translation. The winning book is then translated into English, and published by American University in Cairo Press. Some of the previous winners have been Omaima Al-Khamis (2018), Huzama Habayeb (2017), Adel Esmat (2016), Hassan Daoud (2015), and Hammour Ziada (2014).

The judges for this year’s Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature are Shereen Abouelnaga (chair), literary critic and professor of English and comparative literature at Cairo University; Humphrey Davies, award-winning translator of Arabic literature into English; Thaer Deeb, translator, writer, and critic; Samah Selim, translator and associate professor of Arabic language and literature at Rutgers University in the US; and Hebba Sherif, writer, literary critic, and cultural consultant.

The shortlist of six, chosen from 270 novels submitted from across the Arab world and diaspora, was announced on February 8. Ahmed Taibaoui was announced the winner in a virtual ceremony hosted by Suzan Kenawy, AUC Press Marketing Manager yesterday.

In their citation for the award, the judges described The Disappearance of Mr. Nobody as “hell overlooking the city where established patriarchy versus the search for a lost one, madness versus reason, desire for liberation versus commitment. . . . Despite these outright juxtapositions that inhabit the city’s space and form its margins and means of marginalization, all the characters remain, surprisingly, “Mr. Nobody.”

Algerian Ahmed Taibaoui holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Algiers; he obtained his Masters and Doctoral degrees in Business Administration from the University of Blida, Algeria. He began his career as a teacher and he is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics and Business Administration in the University of Bouira, Algeria.

He wins a cash prize of $5,000, as well as a translation of the winning novel into English and publication under AUC Press’s fiction imprint Hoopoe.