Naguib Mahfouz was born in the Gamaliya quarter of Cairo, Egypt. A longtime civil servant, Mahfouz served in the Ministry of Mortmain Endowments, then as Director of Censorship in the Bureau of Art, as Director of the Foundation for the Support of the Cinema, and, finally, as consultant to the Ministry of Culture. Throughout his career, with an interruption in publication between 1952 and 1959, he has brought out more than 30 novels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1988.
Many of Mahfouz's novels were written in serialized form - e.g., Midaq Alley.
Many of Mahfouz's works have been banned in the Middle East for alleged blasphemy. After a fatwa was issued against him by Omar Abdul-Rahman, Mahfouz was attacked and stabbed in the neck in 1994. He was 83 years old. He now lives under constant bodyguard protection. When a fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie, Abdul-Rahman said that such an action would not have been necessary, if the death sentence he had issued against Mahfouz had been carried out.
This series of works follows the life of the patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad and his family across three generations in Cairo from World War I to the overthrow of King Farouk I in the 1950s.