CAIRO (AFP).- Influential Egyptian novelist Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, widely considered the first contemporary Arab writer of horror and science fiction, has died at the age of 55.
Since his death on Monday, condolences have poured in from fellow authors and fans, many of whom said his thrillers had filled a gap in Egyptian literature during their adolescence.
"Egyptian and Arab culture has lost a great novelist who enriched culture in Egypt and the Arab world," Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem said.
"He was one of the most prominent writers of thrillers and youth stories... (and) was renowned for his enjoyable and captivating style."
Among his most well-known works are "Utopia", "Fantasia", and "The Supernatural" series, whose main character Refaat Ismael is a medical doctor like Tawfik.
"He helped shape my personality," said 31-year-old Sameh Afifi, who read Tawfik's work when he was a teenager.
For him, Refaat Ismael, an otherwise ordinary man who lives a life full of paranormal experiences, "was the first character to personify logic... a scientist who is old, weak and ugly, and has severe anxiety. He was very real."
In a statement Tuesday, the US embassy in Egypt extended condolences to "the family and friends of one of Egypt's most well-known and influential writers".
Tawfik was born in the Nile Delta city of Tanta on June 10, 1962. He graduated from medical school in 1985 and received his PhD in 1997.
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