Cairo: Leading Egyptian author Baha Taher, the winner of the 2008 International Prize of Arabic Fiction, passed away on Thursday evening after a fight against illness, local media reported. He was 87.
Born in Giza near Cairo in January 1935, Taher graduated from Cairo University majoring in history.
He briefly worked as a translator at Egypt’s State Information Service and a presenter at the Egyptian radio. Later, he worked as a UN translator in Geneva.
His first collection of stories “Engagement” was published in 1972.
Several of his literary works were made into TV dramas including “My Aunt Safia and the Monastery”; and “The Oasis of Sunset”.
He penned several critical books including “In Praise of the Novel”; and “Culture and Freedom”. He also translated into Arabic some foreign classics.
Taher was awarded several prizes for his writings including Egypt’s State Merit Prize in 1998 and the 2008 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his novel “The Oasis of Sunset”.
A museum was set up for him in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor where his family roots are traced.
Tributes poured in for Taher.
Egyptian Culture Minister Nevine Al Kelany called him a “great writer belonging to a generation of great writers”.
Egypt’s state publisher, the General Book Organisation, mourned Taher’s death, saying the Arab culture “has lost one of pillars of the Arabic literature”.