6 Books Make 2021 Naguib Mahfouz Medal Shortlist

For the first time since the award was established, the American University in Cairo Press has announced a shortlist for the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature: 

Five judges chose the six shortlisted titles from among 270 Arabic novels submitted from around the world.

The award, which typically announces its winner each December 11, was delayed this year because of “the limitations on reviewing those entries imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Half of the shortlisted novels are by Egyptian writers, while the other three are written by authors from Algeria, Syria, and Yemen. They have a wide variety of subjects and styles, and follow the disappearance of an Alzheimer’s patient; an Egyptian woman trying to help Syrian refugees; a historical novel from Yemen; a novel about memory in Aleppo; an exploration of black-market antiquities; and love and loneliness in contemporary Cairo.

The shortlisted novels are:

Ahmed Taibaoui’s The Disappearance of Mr. Nobody

Amal Radwan’s In The Dust Cities

Algarby Omran’s The Fort of al-Zidi

Maha Hassan’s The Neighborhood of Wonder

Mohammad Aly Ibrahim’s The Stone in Khallaf’s House

Omar Taher’s Kohl and Cardamom

The judges of this year’s Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature are critic and academic Shereen Abouelnaga (chair); translator Humphrey Davies; translator and author Thaer Deeb; translator and academic Samah Selim; and critic Hebba Sherif. 

The winner of the medal is set to be announced next month, in March 2021. 

More about the novels on the AUC Press website.

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