|Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)|
This iconic status could not protect him from a violent assault in 1994, when a religious zealot attempted to assassinate the octogenarian because of his controversial views on religion. A self-described secularist, others interpreted his convictions as atheism. This was also the alleged reason for Mahfouz's transfer, earlier in his career as a civil servant, from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to the Ministry of Culture.
The Children of Gebelawi (also known as Children of the Alley):
The novel depicts a microcosm in a city, easily recognisable as Cairo, in which usurpers use material and physical violence to suppress and torment the population. There are many attempts to rail against this tyranny, each of which crystallises around individuals whose life stories and lines of reasoning point to Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Each of the three manages for a short time to achieve the best result for his supporters and takes it upon himself to fulfil the wishes of the patriarch Gebelawi, who lives in a villa somewhere outside the city – Old Paradise. The fourth "saviour" no longer defers to this ancestral figure, but sets out to fathom his secret, which eventually leads to Gebelawi's death. This pseudo-realistic portrayal casts doubt on the legend, on the myth. The author voices quite explicit and pronounced doubts over the sustainability of old and new messages of salvation, a doubt that also includes the modern sciences –To read the whole article, click here