Yusuf Idris & Zakaria Tamer
When Naguib Mahfouz was announced as the Nobel Prize literature laureate in 1988, almost all Arab authors heralded this unprecedented win. The one exception was Yusuf Idris. He frankly reflected his sense of frustration. On the pan-Arab cultural level, it was taken for granted that if Naguib Mahfouz sat on the throne of novel writing in Egypt and Tawfiq al-Hakim sat on the throne of playwriting, Yusuf Idris was Egypt’s most acclaimed short story writer of all. Therefore, Mahfouz’s win closed the door on the possibility of another Egyptian winning the Nobel Prize again for many decades to come. In fact, there were other Arab candidates eligible to compete for the prestigious prize as well as Mhfouz, such as Ghada Samman and Zakaria Tamer (Syria), Tawfiq al-Hakim and Yusuf Idris (Egypt), Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (Palestine), Tayeb Saleh (Sudan), and Abdul Rahman Munif (Saudi Arabia), in addition to the three great poets Nizar Qabbani and Adonis (Syria), and Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine).