Egyptians were hit Monday night with the sad news of the death of author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, after a years-long battle with heart conditions, his friend Ayman El-Gendy announced in a Facebook post. Tawfik, known as the youth’s “godfather”, closed his eyes for the last time at the age of 55 in Al-Demerdash Hospital.
Tawfik was a Tanta-based physician and novelist. He wrote more than 200 books over his writing career.
Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem mourned the loss of the “godfather who always enriched the cultural scene in Egypt and the Middle East with several critical books and novels.”
He was dubbed the godfather as his very first writings “Ma Wara’ El-Tabia’a” (The Paranormal), a set of small pocket-size horror and thriller stories that began being published in early 1990s. The stories magically drew a world of rationally impossible events that happen to the elder, ironic doctor Ref’at Ismail.
The almost 70-year-old haematologist always faces mysterious phenomenal and metaphysical events for which he constantly collects evidence to solve.
For 11 years, Tawfik wrote 81 serial stories that were a huge success and for years topped the list of bestseller teenage stories.
Tawfik’s stories played an essential role in the 90s generations, to the extent of calling him Ref’at Ismail, due to the similarities between his personality and that of the fictional character he created.
Through his social media accounts, Tawfik always expressed his ultimate life goals, which were based on encouraging a major number of young generations to read.
“RL Stine once said, ‘I want to be written on my grave: He made children read.’ However, I want to be written on my grave, ‘the man who made youth read,’” Tawfik tweeted before he died.
The news caused a huge wave of grief and agony among social media users, who all agreed on how essential the role Tawfik played was in shaping their childhood and creating a world that they used to escape to.
His funeral was attended by tens of thousands of weeping fans, several of whom said, “his loss is as heart breaking as losing a real father.”
In 2008, Tawfik wrote his most successful novel, which shook the Egyptian reading community, Utopia. Based on poverty statistics at the time, Tawfik forecasted how Egypt would be in 2023.
What Egyptians realised soon after is that his predictions would most likely come true, as in Utopia, Tawfik forecasted that Egypt, in the near future, would be a combination of two different contradictory communities located within the same boarders.
Utopia, the city of virtues, is the first one, in which the elites live in an area surrounded by high walls and security guards, with only certain people allowed entry. The other community is for the underprivileged, where all its residents are below the poverty line and mainly survive based on their need for food and drugs.
Through Utopia, readers are introduced to a frightening society, where no middle class exists, and people are divided into two categories: the extremely rich and the unbearably poor.
When the novel was first published, it was widely acclaimed by the public and heavily publicised. Tawfik’s thrillers, science fiction, and his very own style of satire were about worlds that would not come true; thus, people could not fathom that the ideas behind Utopia would slip into reality, despite the author’s predictions that society would one day replicate his novel.