Soueif was born in Cairo and educated in Egypt and England. She studied for a PhD in linguistics at the University of Lancaster. Her novel The Map of Love (1999) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and subsequently translated into 16 languages. Soueif writes primarily in English, but her Arabic-speaking readers say they can hear the Arabic through the English. Along with in-depth and sensitive readings of Egyptian history and politics, Soueif also writes about Palestinians in her fiction and non-fiction. A shorter version of "Under the Gun: A Palestinian Journey" was originally published in The Guardian and then printed in full in Soueif's recent collection of essays, Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground (2004). Soueif has also translated Mourid Barghouti's I Saw Ramallah (with a foreword by Edward Said) from Arabic into English.
Prizes and awards
- 1983 Guardian Fiction Prize (shortlist) Aisha
- 1996 Cairo International Book Fair Best Collection of Short Stories Sandpiper
- 1999 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Map of Love