The Kennedy Center

Alia Mamdouh


Alia Mamdouh was born in 1944 in Baghdad, Iraq, and received her B.A. in Psychology from the Mustansariya University in Baghdad. Between 1972 and 1982, the year that she left Iraq, Mamdouh held editorial positions in various publications in Baghdad, Beirut, and Tunis. Between 1983 and 1990, she ran the cultural section of the daily Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh in Rabat, Morocco.

Mamdouh has written essays and articles for numerous daily and weekly Arab journals, as well as for monthly and periodical Arab intellectual and ideological magazines. She received various invitations to hold lectures and to participate in colloquiums and symposiums in Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, UK, the United States, and Tunisia. Since the 1970s, Mamdouh has published many short stories and novels, including her celebrated Habbat al-Naftaleen ("Naphthalene"), translated into English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Catalan; the Dutch translation was under the auspices of the EU Commission's Mediterranean Memory Project. The novel was twice re-published in the United States in revised versions by Feminist Press at the City University of New York under the title Naphthalene in 2005. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has broadcasted excerpts from Naphthalene in various languages, and the novel is part of the curriculum in many leading universities, including Columbia University, the Sorbonne, and the University of Arizona; it has been the topic of many thesis and comparative studies. Al-Mahbubat ("The Loved Ones") was published in 2003 by Dar al-Saqi and was awarded the 2004 Nagib Mahfouz Prize.
Alia Mamdouh