Ahmed Awny, writer in residence at the Cité internationale des Arts

As an Egyptian writer who has lived his whole life in Cairo, I write a lot based on this local context. But I would like what I write to reach audiences all around the world.

Currently in residence in Paris, with the residency programme of the Institut français at the Cité Internationale des Arts, the Egyptian author Ahmed Awny is working on his second book, In the Factory of Men: a work of non-fiction that explores masculinity and the way in which it influences Egyptian society. 

Published on 04/04/2023

5 min

Ahmed Awny was born in Cairo in 1988. He studied engineering and creative writing at the American University in Cairo, as well as screenwriting at the Meditalents laboratory in Ouarzazate. His first collection of short stories, Chronic Anxiety, was published in 2010 and follows the journey of a teenager through different strata of Egyptian society, during the final year of the Mubarak regime. His first novel, Some achieve greatness, was published ten years later and won the Sawiris Cultural Award in 2019. This satirical story explores the states of mind of a middle-class man in his thirties, who takes part in Egypt’s massive revolution while trying to find meaning in his own existence. Now living between Berlin and Cairo, Awny is currently working on his second book, In the Factory of Men, which focuses on the role of masculinity in Egyptian society. 

Awny works predominantly through the prism of non-fiction, drawing on real events, some of them experienced by the author himself. As such, his work transports us to the heart of Egyptian social life, through different recurring themes such as patriarchal society, the various subcultures, dissidents, exile abroad, and complex family dynamics. In his latest project to date, In the Factory of Men, which he is currently writing, the author tackles his ambiguous relationship with masculinity, a fundamental value in Egypt, through the figure of his sister. But Awny’s approach is not purely realistic: zooming in on an individual, their aspirations and contradictions, he harnesses the power of literature to paint a nuanced portrait of his social milieu. Several of his short stories and extracts from his books have been translated into English and French and published by The Markaz Review and Mada Masr. 

As well as working on In the Factory of Men during his residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Awny is also an independent literary editor. He is also involved in the “International Literature Dialogue” initiative, launched by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This programme aims to explore the issue of artificial intelligence from a literary perspective, as well as to establish a lasting dialogue between Austrian and Egyptian writers. Among his other experiences abroad, Awny was a guest at the Littérature Live Festival, organised by the Villa Gillet in Lyon in 2021. 

  • 1988


    Born in Cairo.

  • 2010


    Chronic Anxiety, a collection of short stories.

  • 2019


    Some achieve greatness, a novel on the Egyptian revolution.

  • 2023


    In the factory of men, forthcoming.

L'institut français, LAB