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Bahaa Taher

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About Bahaa in Arabic

Born in 1935 in Cairo, Egypt. 
Shortly after graduating from the University of Cairo, he started work in Radio 2, the culture channel of the Egyptian Radio. In 1964, he published his first short story.

Bahaa was active in the left-wing and avant-garde literary circles of the 1960s and was one of the writers of the Gallery 68 movement. A storyteller and social commentator Taher lost his job in radio broadcasting and was prevented from publishing in the mid 1970s in Sadat's Egypt. 

In 1981 he chose to leave for Geneva to work as a translator for the United Nations. After many years of exile in Switzerland, he has returned recently to Egypt and is very active in all cultural circles. He has received much recognition in the last five years. Apart from the translation into English of two of his novels, his collected works were published  in Cairo by Dar al Hilal in 1992, and a film was made about him as a leading member of the 60s generation by Jamil 'At iyyat lbrahim in 1995.

 Quickly becoming one of the most widely read contemporary novelists in the Arab world, Taher has received in 1998 the State's Award of Merit in Literature, the highest honour the Egyptian establishment can confer on a writer.

In 2000 he was awarded the prestigious Italian Guiseppe Acerbi prize for his widely acclaimed novel Khalti Safiya wal Dier (My Aunt Safiya and the Monastery)


   A selection of his  works are : 

Several Collections of Short Stories

al-Khutuba (The Engagement)  (Cairo; G.E. B. 0., 1972. Series; Matbu'at al-Jadid, 7) (Cairo; Dar Shahdi li-l-Nashr, 1984)

His first collection of stories, Al Khotouba (The Engagement) had invoked, according to Sabri Hafez, "an extremely strange, nightmarish world, which is nevertheless presented in very ordinary language, as if its strangeness were neither surprising nor lamentable".

Bi-l-Amsi Halamtu Bi-K (Cairo; G.E. B. 0., 1984. Series; Mukhtarat Fusul ,4)

Ana al-Malik Ji'tu (Cairo; G.E. B. 0., 1985. Series;  Mukhtarat Fusul , 19)

Zahabtu ila Shallal (I Went to a Waterfall),

First book to be written after his return to Egypt from an extended stay in the West.
The stories in Zahabtu ila Shallal are far from being complacent variations on favourite themes. For Taher they comprise the effort to come to grips with the changes wrought on the social and political landscape during 14 years of "self-imposed exile", as he puts it

Novels

Sharq al-Nakhila (Cairo: Dar al-Mustaqbal al-'Arabi, 1985) Originally serialized in Sabah al-Khayr in 1983.

Qalat Duha (Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, 1985) Originally serialized in al-Musawwir in 1985.

Khalati Safiyya wal-Dayr (Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, 1991)

Village life in Upper Egypt is magically evoked in this compelling novel of a traditional society caught up in the process of change. The peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians is threatened when a young Muslim is given sanctuary in a Christian monastery. He has killed a man in self defense and the widow is calling for vengeance.

Al-Hob fi al-Manfa (Love in Exile)  1995
widely acclaimed novel, described by I'tidal Osman as "an expansive vision that encompasses world and homeland, north and south, self and other"

Other Works related to Egyptian Culture

Masrahiyyat Misriyya: 'Ard wa-Naqd 
Analysis of 10 Egyptian plays  
(Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, 1985)

Translations

Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery Translated by Barbara Romaine (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1996)

His short story Suddenly it Rained was included in Egyptian Short Stories selected and translated by Denys Johnson-Davies (Washington D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1978)

His short story Advice from a Sensible Young Man was included in Arabic Short Stories selected and translated by Denys Johnson-Davies (London, Melbourne and New York: Quartet, 1983)

His short story Bil-Ams Halamtu Bi-K, was included in Egyptian Tales and Short Stories of the 1970s and 1980s; edited by W. M. Hutchins (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1987)

  We thank Ms. Elizabeth Kendall for her research on the Gallery 68 movement and Mr. Youssef Rakha for his cultural articles in Al-Ahram weekly which are the source of some of this information

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