Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik's death One year later : He made us read

I can’t believe that I have not written in Egyptian Chronicles a proper obituary to my generation’s Pop Culture Godfather sci-fi and horror author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik when he passed last year on that day.

I can’t believe it and I feel mad and angry but it is never too late because the legacy he left for us and for Egyptian and Arabic literature is still living on.

Tuesday marks one year following his departure from this world after a very interesting trip.
Ahmed Khaled Tawfik
Ahmed Khaled Tawfik "I want my epitaph to say: He made the youth read"
On 2 April 2018, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik passed after a long struggle with illness.
The former professor of medicine at the University of Tanta was a chain smoker and his heart suffered from this.

His small family made of his wife as well as his son and daughter could not believe how popular he was among young Egyptians.
Till this day in 2019, there are always new flowers on his tomb in his hometown in Tanta and flocks of visitors who live notes to that author whose imagination was an escape gateway from reality.

Died at the age of 55, Tawfik reached huge success as Sci-Fi and horror fiction author to the level that he is considered true Godfather of horror and sci-fi authors in the Arab world.

He made us read

His career started as the best selling author when he started his series of “Metaphysics” as part the Modern Arab Association’s Egyptian Pocket Novels and enter the saga of the cynical cardiologist Refaat Ismail and his out of the world adventures with vampires, aliens, ghosts, curses… you name it.

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik
Tawfik with the famous illustration of his hero
Dr. Refaat Ismail, made by a fan 
I was a teenager girl when I started to read “Metaphysics” and at the same time I was devoted reader to Nabil Farouk’s Impossible Man aka Egypt’s Man of Steel James Bond  and amazingly I was attracted to Ismail, the bald heart sick cardiologist more than Adham Sabri, the godlike hero of Egyptian intelligence service.

Simply, I found myself in the horror world of Refaat Ismail than the Ultra-Nationalist world of Adham Sabri as I grew older.

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik managed to reach out to teens from early 1980s till mid-1990s through creepy single weak doctor because he presented him as a human, a true human not as a superman intelligence officer.

Following the success of Metaphysics, Tawfik launched two other successful series with the Modern Arab Association: Fantasia and Safari. “Safari” was actually the Arab world’s first medical thriller genre series I believe.

After decades of working with the Modern Arab Association, Tawfik began to publish his work independently with Merit publishing hose and Dar El-Karma publishing house with serious political and social sci-fi novels like best selling Utopia and horror fiction books like the Cemetery's weddings.

Last summer, I bought several Tawfik’s horror books he wrote for Dar El-Karma publishing house for young adults and adults and they managed to transfer me to his world of ghouls, aliens and monsters as well as vampires just as they have done when I was in high school.

I wish to see someday some proper TV series based on those novels on Netflix or Hulu.

Earlier Tuesday, I read that a TV series produced for a regional streaming service was based on one of his novels. I hope it will be good.

In one of his previous interviews, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik said that he wanted the following to be written on his epitaph “He made the youth read” and he did that.
Ahmed Khaled Tawfik
Ahmed Khaled Tawfik Made the youth read
says the epitaph on his tomb in Tanta

Actually, a young man made him that epitaph and left it for his family at the cemetery which became a true landmark in the cemeteries in Tanta. No other author in Egypt gained that type of popularity among a whole generation like that.

Our father in Tanta

When thousands of youth appeared in his funeral and attended his burial , it shocked the older generations of Egyptians to see that scene of young people calling a media shy paperback author living in Nile Delta's Tanta as their godfather and father.

“Our Father in Tanta” it was the new title that went viral in social media shocking the mainstream media.

In fact , it shocked the regime itself especially it showed them that there was someone so popular and yet off their radar especially with his views.

But again the regime in Egypt actually seemed to miss a lot of memos about our generation and how it thinks and is still missing those memos regardless of how many youth conferences it holds and organizes.

Due to his public Pro-25 January views and his condemnation to the Rabaa massacre in August 2013 , many accused him of being a Muslim Brotherhood member which is untrue but once again it was an expected result of the ongoing McCarthyism.

He was not liberal nor extremist, he was a moderate Egyptian author who did not like to write about sex in his novels.

Tawfik wanted to 25 January revolution achieve its goals from democracy , freedom and social justice. He spoke when others were afraid to speak and this means much to me as well others.

If author Nabil Farouk made many Egyptians including myself from the 1980s generation idolize Egypt and sacrifices of the Egyptian intelligence and army servicemen especially during the wars “I still do”  when we were teenagers but let us down in the 25 January revolution and what followed it , Ahmed Khaled Tawfik did not let us down as fans from that generation especially when everyone from intellectuals let us down after 2013.

“The end of dictators is a beautiful thing but unfortunately we mostly do not live till we see it" He had written that once. He died before a true democracy would flourish in Egypt and even before the Arab Spring reaches Algeria and removes its ailing president Abdel Bouteflika.

In his best selling book Utopia, Tawfik spoke about a dystopian and utopian society, separated by walls in Egypt in the future. This vision seems to be happening day after day now.

Now I remember why I did not write an obituary for Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, it is another part of my Egypt fading. May be it is part of the denial process.

A year later, I found out that Ahmed Khaled Tawfik is still alive with his books and his children including his godchildren.
I got all the books he wrote that I missed and I got even the complete collection of Metaphysics. He is here with me, with us

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