Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo, Egypt on December 11, 1911. He received a degree in philosophy from the University of Cairo. He took on several civil service and government department jobs to supplement his income while writing, but retired from that career in 1971. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 30 novels including The Games of Fate, The Cairo Trilogy, Children of Gebelawi, The Thief and the Dogs, Autumn Quail, Small Talk on the Nile, and Miramar. He received numerous awards including the Egyptian State Prize, the Presidential Medal from the American University in Cairo, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. He died as a result of a head injury on August 30, 2006 at the age of 94.
Catherine Cobham teaches Arabic at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and has translated a number of contemporary Arab writers, including Yusuf Idris, Naguib Mahfouz (The Harafish, AUC Press, 1994), and Hanan al-Shaykh.