At a ceremony held tonight at The American University in Cairo (AUC) Tahrir Square campus, AUC Press awarded the 2015 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature to the Lebanese writer Hassan Daoud for his novel La tariq ila al-janna (No Road to Paradise). The award was presented by AUC President Lisa Anderson, and decided by this year’s panel of judges and members of the award committee: Tahia Abdel Nasser, professor of English and comparative literature, AUC; Shereen Abouelnaga, professor of English literature, Cairo University; Mona Tolba, associate professor of Arabic literature, Ain Shams University; Humphrey Davies, renowned translator of Arabic fiction, historical and classical texts, AUC and Rasheed El Enany, emeritus professor of modern Arabic literature, University of Exeter.The award ceremony at AUC’s Oriental Hall on the Tahrir Square campus was attended by several writers and other distinguished personalities of Egyptian cultural life. In their citation for the award, the judges described No Road to Paradise as “a marvelous psychological novel that penetrates the enigmas of time and man in a religious society,” and went on to say: “Daoud’s evocation of a character enclosed in his existence in a southern Lebanese village is subtle and profound. . . . The work’s insights are Proustian in their precision. Each paragraph is like a wafer-thin cross-section of reality, so simply presented that the problems and questions that each action raises are exposed in all their complexity. . . . Through narration reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway’s narration and short, crisp sentences that conceal more than they reveal, the author quietly weaves the climax, so that the man of religion takes off his robe and turban and faces the world with his desire and recognition that this is not the road to paradise. . . . This is his powerful response to his fate. He refuses what he has been subjected to all his life on the threshold of death and is transformed into a real hero in the final pages after being an anti-hero throughout the novel.”
At the award ceremony, AUC Press also celebrated the recent publication of six new paperback editions of Naguib Mahfouz novels (The Harafish, Children of the Alley, Khan al-Khalili, Midaq Alley, The Mirage, and The Thief and the Dogs), and a new translation, Mortal Designs by Reem Bassiouney.
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 800 titles in print, AUC Press is recognized as the region’s leading English-language publisher.
Nominations and submissions for the 2016 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature are welcomed at any time until 15 February 2016. Arabic novels published for the first time in 2014 or 2015, and not yet translated into English, are eligible. For details, see “Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature” on aucpress.com.