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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nobel Prize Winner Naguib Mahfouz Dies
We were saddened last week by the news that the great writer Naguib Mahfouz passed away at the age of 94. The first and only Arab winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, he, according to the Business Standard, would have found much to satirise at his own funeral. Mahfouz was given full state honours—his coffin was draped in a flag, borne in a horse-drawn carriage past a military guard of honour while the President and Prime Minister paid their last respects. But the ordinary people whose lives Mahfouz had documented in works like The Cairo Trilogy were excluded from the funeral for reasons of security. The report quoted Amal, one of Mahfouz’s many loyal readers: “He doesn’t want a state funeral… Did he write for the flag? Did he write for the horses? He wrote for the poor. We should walk in his funeral.”

In NAGUIB MAHFOUZ: THE PASSAGE OF THE CENTURY Mahfouz granted rare access to make this revealing documentary with and about him. At the age of 88, half-blind, hard of hearing, and crippled by a recent assassination attempt, Mahfouz weaves the threads of his life together with his view of society, his childhood, his discovery of literature (Egyptian and Western), the city of Cairo (which he left only three times in his life), Islamic fundamentalism, the evolution of Egypt, the role of women, and the future of civilization.

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