Emily Drumsta on Translating Mahfouz’s ‘Sufi Noir’

"I was trying to explore what I've been calling 'Mahfouz's Sufi Noir,' to see how and why he was drawn to both crime-writing and Sufi storytelling and the same time. When I read 'Culprit Unknown,' I couldn't believe how much it was like a detective story—and that it hadn't been translated yet!"

What’s Wrong with 35 Naguib Mahfouz Translations?

To Arab readers Mahfouz does in fact have a distinctive voice, which displays a remarkable mastery of language yet does not call attention to itself. But in English he sounds like each of his translators, most of whom (with one or two exceptions) are not stylists and, I am sorry to say, appear not to have completely understood what he is really about.