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Bahaa Taher was born in 1935 in Cairo, Egypt. He was active in the country's left-wing literary circles of the 1960s and in the mid 1970s was prevented from publishing his work. After many years of exile in Switzerland, he has recently returned to Egypt. Now one of the most widely read novelists in the Arab world, Taher has received the State's Award of Merit in Literature, the highest honour the Egyptian establishment can confer on a writer. He is the author of four collections of short stories, several plays and works of non-fiction, and six novels. In 2008 he was awarded the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction for Sunset Oasis.