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Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz
(1911 - 2006)
Winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature

I first became familiar with the 20th century literature of Egypt and the contribution of Naguib Mahfouz when I read the short story Zaabalawi in Norton's Anthology of World Masterpieces. It's about a wanderer named Sheik Zaabalawi who is believed to have healing powers by those who know him. His whereabouts are totally unpredictable and he has no permanent address since having abandoned the mansion he used to live in. Zaabalawi never makes an appearance in the story until the narrator who is fascinated by the subject of him and searching for him is passed out drunk as he was required to do. It is at this time when he is temporarily unconscious that Zaabalawi sits next to him and sprinkles water on his head. Mahfouz's stories always take place in Egypt, especially Cairo where he was from.

review of Autumn Quail here.