One Year After His Death, Egypt Still Mourns the Loss of Ahmed Khaled Tawfik
By Muhammed Aladdin
One year ago, one of Egypt’s most iconic authors departed from our world. The pioneering Sci-Fi Writer, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, died on the 2nd of April, 2019 at his home in Al-Gharbyia Governorate. Yet, Tawfik still lives in the hearts of the country’s youth through the legacy he left behind.
Thousands marched in his funeral to say goodbye, not only to a mentor but to their childhood friend as well. After all, the man was the first Arabic writer to introduce the Sci-Fi and horror thriller genre to the Arabic-speaking audience, inspiring a complete generation into reading.
Tawfik was a prolific writer; from illustrated books and short stories to novels, he wrote more than 500 titles, specializing in fantasy, all the while holding a full-time job as a professor of tropical diseases at Tanta University.
His writing style gathered a wide, diverse audience, with many of Egypt’s youth growing up reading his books. He was a father to many, and his writing helped a lot of people find their passion.
Before getting into writing, Tawfik graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Tanta University and joined academia; he later discovered his passion for storytelling and wrote his first short story. The young man did not leave his career as a physician but considered writing to be a complementing hobby.
At the start of his writing journey, Tawfik understood the difficulties that came along with the introduction of the horror genre to the Arab World as the readers of the region generally preferred social commentary, romance, drama, and politics, but never horror.
In fact, in 1992, his first draft for a novel entitled “The Legend of the Vampire,” was rejected by the publishing house. The publishers advised him to write about action or police fiction instead. Luckily, such a heartbreaking response did not sway the young author, pushing him to call for the formation of another committee to review his work. Finally, after some time, reluctantly, the publishing house approved, and Tawfik’s first book was out.
At first, Tawfik struggled to gain popularity; indeed, the older Arab reader tends to prefer truths and facts rather than imagination. However, the same can not be said of the 80s and 90s generations. The young author targeted these, devoting his imagination and creativity to young people.
“The older generation is too concerned with their own problems; they want to read books that mirror their economic and historical problems. Young people, however, appreciate the connections between art, imagination, and technology,” stated Tawfik in an interview with The National. “They can grasp a sci-fi theme.”
With time, as the young ones became more invested in the genre, the older generations followed, and soon, Tawfik became one of Egypt’s best-selling authors.
Today, we remember the awe-inspiring writer for works such as “Ma Waraa’ A-Tabi’a”, or Supernatural in English, which followed the anti-hero “Refa’at Ismail” through a number of metaphysical adventures throughout Egypt and the world.
Furthermore, in 2008, he released his critically-acclaimed novel “Utopia”, which presented a dystopian view of Egypt, where the rich live in gated communities and the poor dwell in slums, each on their own, in a never-ending struggle.
“Fantasia” and “Safari” are some of his lesser-known series, and he also wrote adult novels such as “The Rat Path”, “Like Icarus”, and “El Senga”.
“I’m writing for the child inside me; he’s my main reader,” he was known to often say.