Palestinian author Huzama Habayeb has been awarded the 2017 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature by AUC Press on December 11 at a ceremony held at the American University in Cairo.
Habayeb received the award for her novel "Mukhmal" (Velvet), a harrowing fiction about an ordinary young Palestinian woman living in a Jordanian refugee camp during the 60s and 70s, doing her best to survive despite the harshness of the world around here. As Habayeb explained during the ceremony, the novel's purpose was to show how someone struggling with hardship could still be "able to capture joy in the midst of oppression."
Presented by AUC President Francis J. Ricciardone, the award was decided upon by a panel of prestigious judges such as Tahia Abdel Nasser, Shereen Aboul Naga, Mona Tolba, Humphrey Davies, and Rasheed el-Enany.
The judges described Habayeb's novel as "a new kind of Palestinian novel. It is not about the political cause, the resistance, the dream of return. It is rather about ordinary Palestinians, whose life goes on meanwhile, unnoticed and unrecorded, in the background, while the high dramas of politics occupy center-stage."
AUC Press established the 'Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature' in 1996 and has been the primary publisher for Naguib Mahfouz's work in English for over 30 years, having published some 600 editions of the acclaimed Egyptian writer's works in more than 40 languages since he won the Nobel Prize in 1988. With over 700 titles in print, AUC Press is recognized as Egypt's leading publisher in English.