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Mekkawi Said (1955-2017)

The AUC Press is very saddened by the passing of Egyptian author and novelist Mekkawi Said, who died in Cairo at the age of 62.

Mekkawi was born in the Egyptian capital in 1955 and studied accounting at Cairo University. A scriptwriter and author, he published five short story collections and two novels. He won a number of literary prizes, including one awarded by the Egyptian Radio and Television Festival for his film scripts. 

 
      Photo by Hartwig Klappert    

His first novel won the Souad al-Sabah Prize for Arabic fiction in 1991. His highly-acclaimed second novel, Cairo Swan Song, propelled him into the literary spotlight across the Arab world. Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the ‘Arabic Booker’) in 2008, the book was translated into English by Adam Talib and published by the AUC Press in 2009.

Set in Said’s beloved downtown Cairo, Cairo Swan Song describes the fate of Egypt’s 1970s generation through the eyes of its protagonist, Mustafa, who dreams of a better future. Alienated from a corrupt and corrupting society, the anti-hero watches as the Cairo he cherishes crumbles around him. He feels he cannot rely on his American girlfriend, Marcia and his formerly leftist friends turn either capitalist or Islamist. In one of his interviews, Said explained: “A lot has been written about this district, but mostly through tourists' eyes. I was born here and I know exactly how the area has changed and how important it is for Egypt. I write about it, I can try to preserve it.”

The Egyptian author was also a publisher and a columnist at the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.

 

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