Empty cages, novel of the year – Books – Culture

Empty cages, novel of the year – Books – Culture

Presentation of the Mahfouz award to the writer Fatma Qandil, last Sunday.

« I am grateful to Naguib Mahfouz ​​who finally responded to my message, sent a long time ago. I wrote him a letter when I was sixteen. At that time, all the girls were mad at Hussein Fahmi, the star of Pay Attention to Zouzou, and I confessed to Mahfouz that he was my own prince. He didn’t respond to a teenager like me. I guess he was waiting to make sure I was serious enough, and now he finally agreed to connect our names. “. With these moving words, writer and academic Fatma Qandil expressed her great joy at receiving the Mahfouz Prize, the Egyptian Nobel Prize that literally changed her life.

Qandil later explained that his first novel Aqfas Farigh (Empty Cages, Kotob Khan Editions) reflects several of Mahfouz’s characters such as Nafissa in Bidaya wa Nihaya (Vienna by Night), Zohra in Miramar and other protagonists of his famous trilogy. ” One of the many lessons I learned from Mahfouz is the ability to see people as they are, not as they should be. “, she said during the awards ceremony last Sunday at the old campus of the American University in Cairo.

Celebrate the master’s birthday

The award was presented to him by Professor Ahmad Dallal, President of the University, as well as the members of the jury for 2022: Shereen Aboulnaga (Professor of English Literature), Thaer Deeb (Translator and Critic), Adam Talib (Associate Professor of Classical Arabic Literature at American University), Hussein Hamouda (Professor at the Department of Arabic Language at Cairo University) and Dina Heshmat (Assistant Professor at the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, AUC).

The writer thus received a silver medal, a monetary amount of 5,000 dollars, but first of all her work will be translated into English, under the label Hoopoe fiction of AUC Press.

The Mahfouz Prize, created in 1996, is held on December 11, the birthday of the Egyptian Nobel laureate born in 1911, to reward the best novel of the year published in Arabic. Fatma Qandil’s work was therefore selected among 153 novels from the Arab world. The jury described her as ” an honest and unflinching portrayal of the abusive relationships within an ordinary middle-class Egyptian family “. And let me add: The border between fiction and biography of individuals and communities is disappearing, as well as the border between rhetoric and representation (…) The author is still a poet. Through his rich and dense prose writing we glimpse touching truths, ranging from hope to disappointment (…) from pain to the pleasure of discovery ».

Fatma Qandil is a writer, poet, translator and academic, born in 1958. She is a professor emeritus of contemporary criticism at the Arabic department at the University of Helouan and associate editor of the literary magazine Fossoul. She has published numerous collections of poetry, works of literary criticism and translations into Arabic. His works have been translated into many foreign languages.

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