December 11, 2014, Cairo – At a ceremony held tonight at The American University in Cairo (AUC) Tahrir Square campus, the AUC Press awarded the 2014 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature to the Sudanese writer Hammour Ziada for his novel Shawq al-darwish (The Longing of the Dervish). The award was presented by AUC Provost Mahmoud El-Gamal and decided by this year’s panel of judges Tahia Abdel Nasser, professor of English and Comparative Literature at AUC, Shereen Abouelnaga, professor of English literature at Cairo University, Mona Tolba, associate professor of Arabic literature at Ain Shams University, Humphrey Davies, renowned translator of Arabic fiction, historical and classical texts at AUC and Rasheed El Enany, emeritus professor of modern Arabic literature at the University of Exeter. The award ceremony was attended by many writers and other distinguished personalities of Egyptian cultural life.In their citation for the award, the judges described The Longing of the Dervish as “an intricate love story of a Sudanese slave in the world of the Mahdist movement in nineteenth-century Sudan. “It is a novel that illuminates the intertwining of relationships of power on the regional and local levels from the outbreak of the Mahdi revolution to the fall of Khartoum, . . . using a dramatically colored and wide-ranging palette of characters and events to paint a convincingly atmospheric portrait of a period and a place little-known to most readers. . . . Shawq al-darwish is characterized by an epic richness that courses through the narrative, not only on the level of the complexity of the character of the tragic hero, but also on the level of the multiplicity of the modes of discourse: marvelously and richly alternating between narrative, poetry, songs, folklore, historical documents, Sufi and church hymns, Quranic and Biblical verses, and even writing about writing. . . . In its illustration of the devastation caused by the Mahdi uprising, a fanatical, extremist, and violent religious movement, Shawq al-darwish is a powerful statement on the current scene in the region where religious extremism is causing havoc.”
At the award ceremony, the AUC Press also announced the recent publication of three new English translations: Temple Bar by Bahaa Abdelmegid, Women of Karantina by Nael Eltoukhy, and Lanterns of the King of Galilee by Ibrahim Nasrallah.
The AUC Press, which established the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 1996, has been the primary publisher of Naguib Mahfouz’s English-language editions for more than twenty-five years, and has also been responsible for the publication of some 600 foreign-language editions of the Nobel laureate’s works in more than 40 languages around the world since the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. With up to 60 new publications annually and more than 1,000 titles in print, the AUC Press is recognized as the region’s leading English-language publisher.
Nominations and submissions for the 2015 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature are welcomed at any time until 15 February 2015. Arabic novels published for the first time in 2013 or 2014, and not yet translated into English, are eligible.
For details, see “Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature” on www.aucpress.com.