Denys Johnson-Davies, an Englishman living in Cairo "who translated more than 30 Arabic novels, short story collections and anthologies," died May 22, the New York Times reported. He was 94. Johnson-Davies "made it his life's mission to bring the writers he loved, and in many cases knew personally, to an international audience" and became "a one-man cottage industry, translating more than 30 Arabic novels, short-story collections and anthologies, including the works of the Egyptian writers Tawfik al-Hakim and Mohamed el-Bisatie; the Iraqi writer Abdul Malek Nuri; and the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish."
He was best known for his translations of Naguib Mahfouz, "whom he came to know in Cairo immediately after World War II, well before many Egyptians were even acquainted with his work," the Times noted. After Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Johnson-Davies translated his The Time and the Place & Other Stories (1991), The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (1992), Arabian Nights and Days (1995) and Echoes of an Autobiography (1997).
Called "the leading Arabic-English translator of our time" by Edward Said, Johnson-Davies "exposed Western readers to the diversity of contemporary Arabic literature in a series of important anthologies. These included Egyptian Short Stories (1978), Under the Naked Sky: Short Stories From the Arab World (2001) and The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction (2006)," the Times wrote. His most recent work of translation, Homecoming: 60 Years of Egyptian Short Stories, was published by the American University in Cairo Press in 2012.