Youssef Rakha is an Egyptian writer born in Cairo, Egypt on 12 June 1972. His work explores language and identity in the context of Cairo, and reflects connections with the Arab-Islamic canon and world literature. He has worked in many genres in both Arabic and English, and is known for his essays and poems as well as his novels.
Rakha is best known for his first novel, The Book of the Sultan's Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars. First published in 2011 as Kitab at-Tugra: Gharaib at-Tarikh fi Madinat al-Marrikh, the book is studied for its innovative use of Arabic, its postmodern take on the theme of the caliphate, its reimagining of the city of Cairo and its possible significance in the history of Arabic literature. It won the Banipal Seif Ghobash Prize for Paul Starkey’s English translation in 2015, and was published in French in 2016.
For academic interest in The Book of the Sultan's Seal, see Paul Starkey's chapter in Studying Modern Arabic Literature, Benjamin Koerber's paper in the Journal of Arabic Literature, and Anton Shammas's remark on the English publisher's website. For the Banipal Prize, see the Banipal Trust site.For the French translation, by Philippe Vigreux, see Éditions Zoé [fr].
Since 2011 Rakha has completed two other novels in a proposed trilogy on the January Revolution, The Crocodiles and Paulo . The latter was longlisted for the Arabic Booker in 2017 (the IPAF longlist for 2017) and won the 2017 Sawiris Cultural Award for Best Novel in January 2018.
Flowers of the Sun (Azhar Ash-shams), By (author), Dar Sharqiyat, 1999, Book
All Our Places (Kull Amakinina), By (author), Dar Al-Ain, 2010, ISBN-13, 9789774900228, Book
The Book of the Sultan's Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars, By (author), Dar Al-Shorouk, 2011, ISBN-13, 9789770929889, Book
The Crocodiles, By (author), Seven Stories Press, 2015, ISBN-13, 9781609805715, Book
Paulo, By (author), Dar Al-Tanwir, 2016, ISBN-13, 9789776483583, Book
Barra and Zaman: Reading Egyptian Modernity in Shadi Abdel Salam’s The Mummy, By (author), Palgrave Pivot, 2020, ISBN-13, 9783030613532, Book
And Yet My Heart: Third Millennium Mutanabbi (Walakinna Qalbi: Mutanabbi al Alfiya al Thalitha), By (author), Dar Al-Tanwir, 2021, ISBN-13, 9789778280609, Book
Sawiris Cultural Award, Winner, 2018
International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Long-listed, 2017