Idris Ali
Idris Ali was an Egyptian
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 author of Nubian origin. He was born in Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

 in Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 and studied at Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University is an educational institute in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 970~972 as a madrasa, it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. It is the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. In 1961 non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum.It is...

. He published his first story in 1969, and eventually wrote six novels and three short story collections. Among his best-known works are Dongola and Poor, both of which have been published in English by the AUC Press
AUC Press
The AUC Press was established in 1960 and reorganized in 1984. It is the Middle East’s largest English language publishing house. Its goal is to support the cultural exchange mission of its parent university....

, in translations by Peter Theroux
Peter Theroux
Peter Theroux is an American writer and translator. He studied English literature at Harvard University, and spent a year at the American University in Cairo...

 and Elliot Colla respectively. Dongola received the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award
Arkansas Arabic Translation Award
The Arkansas Arabic Translation Award is a prize given for a notable English translation of a book-length literary work originally written in the Arabic language. The award is administered by the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the University of Arkansas...

 in 1997.

Idris Ali's work dealt largely with life in his native Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

. He was a strong voice against the poverty and deprivation suffered by the Nubian people, and he protested against the loss of native land caused by the building of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s and 70s. He lived in Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 between 1976 and 1980, and his last book The Leader Having a Haircut (2010) caused considerable controversy when it was banned at the 2010 Cairo International Book Fair
Cairo International Book Fair
The Cairo International Book Fair is the largest and oldest book fair in the Arab world, held every year in the last week of January in Cairo, Egypt, at the Cairo International Fair Grounds in Madinat Nasr, near Al-Azhar University, it is organised by the General Egyptian Book Organisation...

 due to its critical depiction of the Gaddafi regime.

Also notable is his novel The Explosion of the Skull which won the Best Egyptian Novel award in 1999 and led to his meeting President Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak is a former Egyptian politician and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011....

. This also improved his financial circumstances somewhat. Ali spent large parts of his life in poverty, as recounted in his autobiography Below the Poverty Line. He worked for a construction company for low wages when the income from his writings proved to be insufficient. He also suffered the loss of his son which led to multiple suicide attempts in his later years.
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