Khairy Shalaby was born in a village in the Nile Delta in Egypt, in 1938. His father died when he was young, and he began to work at a young age struggling against hunger and poverty. He lived in the Cairo cemeteries (the City of the Dead). In the 1950s, however, he joined Salah Abu Seif’s cinema-writing workshop, which changed his life. He began writing for radio and television, before turning to fiction. In his fiction, he introduced his signature-style of mixing language registers within a single sentence or paragraph. He is known for his evocation of the Egyptian street.
Khairy dedicated his life to writing, and published over 70 books. Theatre criticism was among his passions. His work on the history of Egyptian theatre led him to discover many lost manuscripts, which he then reviewed and published some of them. His novels were bestsellers; many were adapted into movies and TV shows, winning national and international prizes. He died in 2011.