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Fatma Qandil wins Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature 2022 for ‘Empty Cages’

Egyptian writer Fatma Qandil won the award of the 2022 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her novel “Aqfas Farigha”(Empty Cages), the American University in Cairo (AUC) Press announced.

The award was presented by President of the American University in Cairo, Ahmed Dallal.

A plethora of prominent writers and influential personalities in Egyptian cultural life attended the award ceremony in the AUC’s Oriental Hall at the famous Tahrir campus.

The award consists of a silver medal, a cash prize of US$5,000, and the translation of the winning novel into English and its publication in a series of publications by the American University in Cairo Press.

The press house specializes in novels, and bears the name “Hoopoe.”

The judges described the novel as “an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the relationships of violence that lie beneath the surface of an ordinary middle-class Egyptian family; relationships of gendered power.”

“In this book, the border between fiction and the biography of individuals and communities dissolves.

The idea of borders between rhetoric and representation, life-writing and art were also deeply discussed.

The book will make you question the normative boundaries between the biography and the novel and re-examine the definitions of both,” the jury’s cited about the award.

They added: “Fatma Qandil’s language is sly. As soon as the reader gets close to pinning the work down in a single category, it slips through our fingers. She is a poet after all

In her rich and dense prose, we catch sight of poignant truths, which encompass both hope and disappointment, the weakness of human character and the struggle to resist it, and the pain and pleasure of discovery.”

Qandil engages the reader in the psychological texture of intimate and fraught relationships to recounts the story of femininity, family and loss that accompanies the reader for a long time after the last page, the jury continued.

The AUC Press also celebrated during the award ceremony the publishing of the English translation of “The Disappearance of Mr. Nobody” novel by Algerian novelist Ahmed Taibaoui, who won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature 2021.

The American University in Cairo Press, which launched the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 1996, has been the principal publisher of Naguib Mahfouz’s works in English for more than 30 years and the copyright holder of more than 600 other foreign language editions of the writer’s works that have been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide.

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