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 Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 11:43 GMT
Egyptian author 'out of danger'
Naguib Mahfouz
Mahfouz: One of the Arab world's most praised novelists
Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz, the first writer in Arabic to win the Nobel prize for literature, is in intensive care in a Cairo hospital suffering from a chest infection.

However, one of his doctors was quoted as saying on Sunday that Mahfouz was improving and was "no longer in danger".

The 91-year-old novelist was admitted to hospital in the Cairo suburb of Agouza on Thursday.

"We took him to hospital with a heavy flu which made his breathing difficult and he was admitted as an emergency to the resuscitation unit," his wife, Atteyat-Allah, told French news agency AFP.

"His memory has been a little disturbed by the fever, [but] thank God, he is doing better."

Local media reports said that the writer had been suffering from pneumonia.

Assassination attempt

The author had reportedly complained of feeling unwell during a weekly meeting he held with his friends every Wednesday, his friend and biographer Raymond Stock said.

His health has suffered since his hospitalisation for seven weeks in 1994 after an Islamic fundamentalist, angered by his portrayal of God in one of his novels, stabbed him in the neck.

The knife caused nerve damage in his neck, limiting his ability to use his writing hand and causing his eyesight and hearing to deteriorate.

Born in 1911, Mahfouz is regarded as one of the best writers and premier intellectuals in the Arab world, publishing more than 50 novels, short story collections, plays, newspaper columns, essays, travelogues, memoirs and political analyses.

His works, including Palace of Desire, Adrift on the Nile and Children of Gebelawi, are often seen as depicting the social history of Egypt during upheavals of the 20th century, and have been published in 25 languages.

He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988.

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