AUC Press has awarded the 2010 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature to Miral El-Tahawy for her book "Brooklyn Heights." As in previous years, the announcement was made on the occasion of Mahfouz’s birthday, 11 December. The award celebration will take place at the AUC Campus in downtown Cairo and will include a speech by Gaber Asfour.
Awarded every year since 1996, the prize is presented annually to an Arabic literary piece that has not been translated into English. The silver medal and the cash prize are only a part of the award. The winning piece will be translated and published in English. As has been the case with past winners, it is likely to then be translated into many other languages, as well.
Many prominent figures of literature and culture are members of the selection committee, including Abdel Moneim Talima, Hoda Wasfi, Fakhry Saleh, Gaber Asfour, Samia Mehrez, and Mark Linz, Director of the AUC Press.
According to Mehrez, a professor of Arabic literature in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilization and director of the Center for Translation Studies, the selection of the winner is not determined by geographic location or by nomination for other prizes, and many famous works have not been nominated, such as the works by the famous Egyptian novelist Alaa El-Aswany, whose works were translated and published by AUC press.
With this award, El-Tahawy joins Yusuf Idris, Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid, Edwar El-Kharrat, Khairy Shabaly Benslam Himmich and Hoda Barakat, who are among the 16 previous recipients of the award. With today's 17th winner, there are now eight women and ten Egyptians who have been given the prize.
"Brooklyn Heights" is El-Tahawy's fourth published novel. It deals with Egyptian immigrants in the West and the challenges they face while they attempt to attain their dreams.
The book has also been included in the short list for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known was Arabic Booker, announced Thursday, 8 December.