Sonallah Ibrahim was born in Cairo
1952 he began to study law and worked
as freelance journalist and translator.
As a result of his political activities
he was arrested several times and finally given a prison sentence of five
years and six months during Nasser’s campaign against leftists in 1959.
His first novel Tilka r-ra’iha
(The Smell of It) was published in 1966. The novel was confiscated immediately
after publication.. It appeared in incomplete versions several times before
it was finally published in full version 1986, in three different editions
in Khartoum, Cairo and Casablanca.
After his dismissal Sonallah
Ibrahim worked 1967 for the Egyptian news agency Middle East News Agency
(MENA). In 1968 he moved to East-Berlin; there he worked for the East German
news agency ADN from 1968 until 1971.
Sonallah Ibrahim translated The
Enemy, a novel by the American writer James Drought, into Arabic. Also
he translated Brudians Esel, a novel by the German author Günter
de Bruyn and different works of prose by Western authors which were published
in 1994 in an anthology under the title at-Tagriba al-unthawiyya („Female
Since 1975 he gave up working to
be able to concentrate on his writings. It was this year that he got married.
He wrote several novels and short
stories for younger readers as method of education, for example he wrote
a novel on animal and plant live in the Red Sea.
In 1992 Sonallah Ibrahim received
the Ghalib-Halsa-Award from the Jordanian Author’s Union and in 1994 the
Sultan-Uwais-Award (United Arab Emirates). 1998 he rejected the Naguib
Mahfuz-Prize of the American University in Cairo. He also decided
to refuse the Arabic Novel Award which was offered to him in 2003 by the
Egyptian Ministry of Culture. In his speech he explained his reasons by
criticising the political attitude of Egypt and other Arab states to the
American predominance, being obsequious to American dictation, he also
criticized their ignoring Israeli occupation and destroying war against
the Palestinian People.
One of his most important works
is his novel al-Lagna (The Committee) 1981, which is distinguished
by the use of intertextual references to contemporary history. It deals
with the influence of global markets and expanding capitalist concerns
on the continents worldwide.
Beirut Beirut (1984) is about
the Civil war in Lebanon.
Dhat (1992) and Sharaf
(1997) deal about the difficult reality that Egyptian society is confronted
with after the policy of liberal market during Sadat’s regime.
Warda (2000) is a novel on
the struggle for liberation led by Zuffar in Oman.
Sonallah Ibrahim’s last work is
his novel Amrikanli (Americanish) 2003 - It is the story of an Egyptian
professor who is teaching history at an American university, the history
of both countries are being compared.– the title consists of three words
„ Amri kana li” that are put together in one word meaning: „Once I was
my own master.“
to the index prizes