Naguib Mahfouz, the Arab world's celebrated Nobel laureate for literature, died in Cairo on 30 August 2006. He was 94 years old and had been in frail health since an assassination attempt in 1994, which left him almost unable to write. Naguib Mahfouz was born on December 11, 1911, in the old Gamaliya quarter of Cairo, where he spent his first nine or ten years and which plays an important role in his earlier, realistic novels such as Midaq Alley and The Cairo Trilogy, and figures symbolically and in terms of characters and physical images in later books like Children of the Alley and The Harafish. The alley of his childhood is a kind of microcosm of Egyptian society in his works. Children of the Alley was deemed an allegory on the lives of the prophets including the Prophet Mohammed, which led to a fatwah being pronounced and in 1994 a religious zealot tried to stab him to death.
Professor Rasheed El-Enany is the Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He is Professor of Modern Arabic Literature and in 1993 published a large scholarly work called Naguib Mahfouz - The Pursuit of Meaning (Routledge).