Naguib Mahfouz: 1911-2006

Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz passed away today in Cairo. Although the news is not a shock–he had been seriously ill for a few weeks–it is still difficult to accept. I find myself thinking about the first time I read him, when I was twelve or thirteen. Our high school didn’t have a library, so our Arabic teachers organized a “borrowing club”–each of us would bring a book at the beginning of the trimester, and the books thus collected formed the class’s pool, from which we could choose what to read every other week. That’s how I came to Naguib Mahfouz’s Miramar, and, later, to his other novels and stories. I will have more to say about him and his significance to Arabic letters very soon. Stay tuned.