Bahaa Taher


One of the most respected living writers in the Arab world. Bahaa Taher has written six novels (three translated in English), four short-story collections, plays and non-fiction. He was awarded International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008, in Abu Dhabi. Taher's Sunset Oasis, published in Cairo in 2007, was chosen out of 131 novels from 18 countries. Set in the late 19th century, Sunset Oasis begins with a caravan journey from Cairo to Siwa, an oasis town on Egypt's Libyan border, peopled by fiercely independent Berbers. In his best known novel, Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery (1991), translated into English (1996), a young Muslim man caught in blood feud with a vengeful aunt is given sanctuary in a Coptic (Christian) monastery. It was written as violent clashes between Muslims and Copts were erupting in Upper Egypt. After attending Cairo University Taher helped found Cairo Radio's cultural programme in 1957. He was sacked in 1975, accused of being 'red' cell in Cairo Radio. He went to Geneva. There he wrote Love in Exile (1995) that includes testimony of the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra-Shatila Refugees camps in Beirut in 1982. Having spent 14 years in Geneva Taher returned to Cairo in 1995. He was given Egypt's top state literary award in 1998, but Taher quit the ineffectual writers' union in 2000. Bahaa Taher was born in Cairo, son of an Arabic schoolteacher.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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