This volume consists of essays published in newspapers between 1982 and 1988, coinciding with the early years of Hosni Mubarak’s presidency described by Mahfouz as an ‘unhurried democracy’. Mahfouz’s exceptional humanity is most prominent in the careful attention he pays to the daily challenges faced by Egyptians. The writing presented here reveals his remarkable insight into the country’s political and social issues, as well as pragmatic capacity to see the bigger picture, particularly when it comes to the role of Egypt in the Arab world. A recurring theme in the majority of the essays is Mahfouz’s perseverance in insisting, despite hardships, on tolerance and justice, on peaceful coexistence, on the maintenance of work ethics, on the importance of cultural education, and the merits of democracy.
Naguib Mahfouz was the most important Arab writer of his generation. He was the winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. Russell Harris is an established translator of literary works from French and Arabic. Rasheed El-Enany is Professor Emeritus of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Exeter.