Author and journalist Alia Mamdouh was born in 1944 to an Iraqi father and a Syrian mother, and currently lives in exile in Paris, France.
After completing her degree in psychology from the University of Mustansiriya, while at the same time working as editor-in-chief of Al Rasid magazine and editor of al-Fikr al-mua’sir magazine, Alia decided to move to Beirut, then Palestine and London before finally settling in Paris.
Her first collection of short stories, Iftitahyya li-l-Dahik (An Overture of Laughter) was published in Beirut in 1973; this was followed five years later by her second collection Hawamish ila al-Sayyida B (Margins for Mrs. B). Her first novel, Layla wa al-Dhib (Layla and the Wolf), was published in 1981. Her second novel, Habat al-Naftalin (Naphthalene) was published in English by Garnet Publishing; she is most known for this book, as it was widely acclaimed and translated. Al-Wala’ (The Passion), a third novel, was published in 1995.
She won the 2004 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her novel The Loved Ones. The Foreigner has been longlisted for the 2014 Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
Alia was also Editor-in-Chief at Al-Rasid magazine from 1970 to 1982, before taking up a similar position at Al-Fikr al Mu’asir magazine for two years. She continues to contribute to the main newspapers and journals of the Arab world.