Saqi Books is publishing a newly discovered collection of short stories by the late author Naguib Mahfouz who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature and died in 2006.
Lynn Gaspard, publisher at Saqi Books, acquired world English rights from sister company Dar al Saqi to publish the collection posthumously. Saqi will publish the stories in English, as translated by Roger Allen, in autumn 2019 while Dar al Saqi will publish in Arabic on Naguib Mahfouz’s birthday, 11th December 2018, during the Beirut International Arab Book Fair.
The discovery of the 50 short stories was made when Egyptian journalist Mohamed Shoair was undertaking research for a book at the home of Mahfouz’s daughter, Umm Kulthum. On stumbling across the handwritten collection, he observed it was accompanied by a note, “for publishing 1994.” 1994 was the year in which an attempt on the writer's life was made, with an Islamic extremist succeeding in stabbing the 82-year-old novelist in the neck outside his home in Cairo leaving him subsequently unable to write for more than few minutes a day due to nerve damage.
Although some of the stories in the retrieved collection were published in magazines and collections during Mahfouz’s lifetime, 18 of these have not been published before. Kulthum announced she was looking for a publisher in September this year.
Saqi books called it a "priceless discovery". "With fable-like scenarios and reappearing characters, these stories still speak of contemporary Cairene society," it said in a statement. "With Mahfouz’s often ironic, always insightful observation of the human character, this priceless discovery is wonderful news for fans of one of the world’s best-loved novelists."
Inquiries as to world English rights excluding the UK can be made by contacting Elizabeth Briggs at Saqi (firstname.lastname@example.org).