Haytham El-Wardany

Haytham El-Wardany


هيثم الورداني

Haytham El-Wardany is a prolific writer of short stories, essays, art writing, and experimental prose, whose understated style, dark imagination and outsider’s perspective have earned him a reputation as one of Egypt’s most talented authors. He was born in Giza in 1972, and for the last twenty years has lived in Berlin, where his contribution to the city’s arts and literary scene was recognised in 2021 by the senate’s prestigious Stipend for Non-German Literature. He has translated German-language works by Walter Benjamin, Wolfgang Hermann and Robert Walser into Arabic.

El-Wardany’s short stories first appeared in the anthology Threads on Circles in 1995. His first solo collection The Unfinished Literature Club received the 2003 Sawiris Award for best short story collection; his second, Daydream, won the Cairo International Book Fair’s 2012 prize for best short story collection. In 2021 his latest collection, Things That Can’t Be Fixed, won him the Cairo International Book Fair prize for a second time.

El-Wardany’s work is adventurous and often genre-defying, as reflected in two publications of experimental prose, which are also his only full-length works to have appeared in translation. How to Disappear appeared in Arabic and English in 2013, and was later translated into Spanish; The Book of Sleep (2017) was critically acclaimed and appeared in English in 2020. His newest work, Jackals and the Lost Letters, combines fable, short story and essay forms (2023). Numerous short stories and essays have appeared in Arabic and English in literary journals and art publications.

His website (in English): nakoja-abad.work

© Private
Date of birth : 1972
Country of birth: Egypt
Country of residence: Germany
Publisher(s): Dar Sharqiyat & Al Karma
Contact: teneleven (agency)

Selected bibliography

  • بنات آوى والحروف المفقودة,  Jackals and the Lost Letters*, Dar Al Karma, Egypt, 2023. English translation: “In the Wrong Place”, excerpt available on Perpetual Postponment/ Ashkal Alwan, trans. by Katharine Halls; German translation: Gaza 2035″ and “Dessau, 2019”excerpts available in Stadtsprachen Magazin, trans. by Sandra Hetzl
  • ما لا يمكن إصلاحه, Things That Can’t Be Fixed*, Dar Al Karma, Egypt, 2020
  • كتاب النوم, The Book of Sleep, Dar Al Karma, Egypt, 2017. English translationThe Book of Sleep, Seagull Books, 2020, transl. by Robin Moger
  • كيف تختفي, How to Disappear, Kayfa Ta, Egypt/Germany, 2013. English translationHow to Disappear, Kayfa Ta, Egypt/Germany, 2013, trans. by Jennifer Leigh Peterson and Robin Moger; Spanish translationCómo Desaparecer, Editorial ñ, 2016, trans. by Carlos Prieto Acevedo
  • حلم يقظة, Daydream*, Dar Merit, Egypt, 2011
  • جماعة الأدب الناقص, The Unfinished Literature Club*, Dar Merit, Egypt, 2003 
  • خيوط على دوائر, Threads on Circles*, Dar Sharqiyyat, Egypt, 1995

*Working title


In the brotherhood of sleep, all sleepers are equal : The Book of Sleep by Haytham El-Wardany by RoughGhosts, May 2021

The Book of Sleep – Haytham El-Wardany by Full Stop, June 2020

The Book of Sleep – Haytham El-Wardany offers a defense of slumber by 4 Columns, March 2020

Prizes and awards

  • Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism, Bard College in 2023
  • Berlin Senate Stipend for Non-German Literature in 2021
  • Cairo International Book Fair prize for best short story collection, for Ma la yumkin islahuh in 2021
  • Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) grant for Creative and Critical Writings in 2019
  • Cairo International Book Fair prize for best short story collection, for Hilm yaqza in 2012
  • Sawiris Award for best short story collection, for Jamaʿat al-adab al-naqis in 2003


Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Katharine Halls