Egyptian writer and novelist Alaa El-Deeb, who was often described by his friends as “Egypt's noble writer,” died on Thursday at the age of 77 at Maadi Military Hospital in Cairo after a long battle with illness.
A week earlier President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a decree that the costs of the writer's treatment would be covered by the presidency, but the decree has not yet been enacted.
Best known for his seminal book Waqfa Qabl Al-Munhadar (“A Stop Before the Decline”), El-Deeb was born in 1939 and studied law at Cairo University, graduating with a law degree in 1960.
Like many of his counterparts, he was taken with the Nasserite era and the charisma of President Nasser, but the Egyptian defeat in the Six Day War in 1967 left a deep mark on him.
In his autobiography A Stop Before the Decline: Papers of an Egyptian Intellectual, the author reviews what happened to Egypt between 1952 when the Free Officer Movement ended monarchic rule and 1982, after the economic policies of the free market began to have an effect on Egyptian society.
"I see these papers, saddening and depressing but honest, honest as the blood flowing from a new injury,” wrote El-Deeb in the book. “It was necessary to be written, because it was the only alternative to running with the devil or committing suicide."
The writer also published six novels and five short story collections, and translated many books. His column “Books' Juice" was one of the best-known columns in Egyptian cultural journalism. He was awarded the State's Appreciation Award for literature in 2001.
El-Deeb's funeral will be held on Friday after afternoon prayers at Sayyeda Aisha Mosque.