Idris Ali

Idris Ali


إدريس علي

Idris Ali was born in Aswan, Upper Egypt. He studied at al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was Nubian, and his identity played a major role in his books, since he often depicts the difficulties encountered by Nubians in Egypt following the construction of the Aswan High Dam and its consequences on Nubian communities: trauma, displacement, exile. But he also tackled other issues in his books, such as dictatorship in the Arab world; with a focus on Libya, where he lived in the 1970s.

© Egyptian Streets
Date of birth : 1940
Date of death: 2010
Country of birth: Egypt
Country of residence: Egypt

Selected bibliography

  • الزعيم يحلق شعره, The President Cuts His Hair*, Dar Waad, Egypt, 2011
  • انفجار جمجمة, Explosion of a Skull, Al Majlis Al Aala lil kitab, Egypt, 2011. French translation: L’explosion, Actes Sud, France, 2007, trans. by Hoda Fourcade
  • اللعب فوق جبال النوبة, Playing in the Nubian Mountains*, Al Hayah Al Misriyah Al Ammah lil Kitab, Egypt 2010
  • مشاهد من قلب الجحيم, Scenes From the Heart of Hell*, Al Majlis Al Aala lil kitab, Egypt, 2006
  • تحت خط الفقر, Poor, Dar Merit, Egypt, 2005. English translation: Poor, AUC Press, USA, 1999, trans. by Elliott Colla
  • المبعدون, The Exiled*, Maktabat Al Usra, Egypt, 2003
  • النوبي, The Nubian*, Maktabat Al Usra, Egypt, 2001. Spanish translation: El Nubio, Icaria Editorial, Spain, 2007
  • واحد ضد الجميع, One Against All*, Al Hayah Al Misriyah Al Ammah lil Kitab, Egypt, 2001
  • وقائع غرق السفينة, The Shipwreck*, Markaz Al Hadara Al Arabiya, Egypt, 1994
  • دنقلة, Dongola, Al Hayah Al Misriyah Al Ammah lil Kitab, Egypt, 1993. English translation: Dongola. A Novel of Nubia, University of Arkansas Press, USA, 1998, trans. by Peter Theroux

* Working title


Remembering Novelist Idris Ali, Critic of Ghaddafi by ArabLit in March 2011

Nubian Author Idris Ali Dies at 70 by ArabLit in December 2010

Idris Ali Book Confiscated at Cairo Book Fair by ArabLit in February 2010 

Ali does convey a vivid picture of a hard life by The Complete Review, October 2007 (about Poor)

It is interesting to see something of the story of Nubia, which most Westerners will be unaware of by The Modern Novel (about Dongola)

Prizes and awards

  • Best Egyptian Novel Award, 1999 (for The Explosion of the Skull)
  • Arkansas Arabic Translation Award, 1997 (for Dongola)

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Xavier Luffin