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Alaa Al Aswany was born in 1957. A dentist whose first office was in the Yacoubian Building, he has written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers across the political spectrum on literature, politics and social issues.
An astounding portrait of modern Cairo, of bribery and corruption, of love and despair, of opportunities sought and contradictions found, all hung around the occupants of a dilapidated department building. It has been a bestseller in the Arab world for four years and certainly deserves to be one over here too. A very impressive work.Comparison: Ahdaf Soueif, Naguib Mafouz, Orhan Pamuk.
The study of dictatorship in the West has acquired an almost exotic dimension. But authoritarian regimes remain a painful reality for billions of people worldwide who still live under them, their freedoms violated and their rights abused. They are subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, corruption, ignorance, and injustice. What is the nature of dictatorship? How does it take hold? In what conditions and circumstances is it permitted to thrive? And how do dictators retain power, even when reviled and mocked by those they govern? In this deeply considered and at times provocative short work, Alaa Al Aswany tells us that, as with any disease, to understand the syndrome of dictatorship we must first consider the circumstances of its emergence, along with the symptoms and complications it causes in both the people and the dictator.
From Egypt's most popular novelist - an absorbing, exuberant and powerfully moving story of a family swept up by social unrest in post-World War II Cairo.Abd el-Aziz Gaafar, formerly a well-respected landowner now in the grip of penury, moved his family to Cairo and took on menial work at the Automobile Club - a place of refuge and luxury for its European members, a place where Egyptians may appear only as servants. Alku, the lifelong Nubian servant of Egypt's corrupt king, runs the show in all but name. The servants, a squabbling, humorous, and deeply human group, live in a perpetual state of fear: beaten for their mistakes, their wages dependent on Alku's whims. When Abd el-Aziz's pride gets the better of him and he stands up for himself, his death - as much from shame as from his injuries after Alku has him beaten - leaves his widow further impoverished, and two of his sons obliged to work in the Club. As the family is drawn into the turbulent politics - public and private - both servants and masters are subsumed by Egypt's social upheaval. Soon the Egyptians of the Automobile Club face a stark choice: to live safely but without dignity as servants, or to fight for their rights and risk everything.'Al Aswany is a world writer, making Egyptian concerns into human ones and beautifully illuminating our always extraordinary and sometimes sad and baffling world.' The Times (London)
As the Egyptian revolution unfolded throughout 2011 and the ensuing years, no one was better positioned to comment on it - and try to push it in productive directions - than best-selling novelist and political commentator Alba Al Aswany. For years a leading critic of the Mubarak regime, Al Aswany used his weekly newspaper column for Al-Masry Al-Youm to propound the revolution's ideals and to confront the increasingly troubled politics of its aftermath. This book presents, for the first time in English, all of Al Aswany's columns from the period, a comprehensive account of the turmoil of the post-revolutionary years, and a portrait of a country and a people in flux. Each column is presented along with a context - setting introduction, as well as notes and a glossary, all designed to give non-Egyptian readers the background they need to understand the events and figures that Al Aswany chronicles. The result is a definitive portrait of Egypt today - how it got here, and where it might be headed.
The bestselling author of he Yacaoubian Building and hicago turns his attention to current affairs in Egypt. In the novels and short stories of Alaa Al Aswany, characters struggle with class differences, police brutality, poverty, sexual harassment, and political corruption; now, in a new collection of the weekly newspaper columns previously published in Arabic, Al Aswany considers these same issues that torment modern Egyptian society. He has a great deal to say about one of the most pressing questions on everyone's mind: who will be the next president of Egypt, and how will he be elected? He discusses the moral ambiguity of appointed politicians, the suitability of democratic reforms in a Muslim society, and the inherent contradiction in the actions of the religiously observant policeman who tortures or the man who harasses women. Critical, controversial, and straightforward, Al Aswany asks his government to serve the people, and the people to demand what they deserve.
The new book from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the international bestseller `The Yacoubian Building' and `Chicago'. `Friendly Fire' is a novella and collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the bestselling `The Yacoubian Building'. As in that novel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and, with skill and detachment, reveals the hypocrisy, violence and abuse of power characteristic of a world in moral crisis. Here, though, the focus has shifted from the broad historical canvas to the minute stitches of pain that hold together an individual, a family, a school classroom and the relationship between a man and a woman. Can a man so alienated from his society that he regards all its members as no better than microbes wriggling under a microscope survive within it? Can cynical religiosity triumph over human decency? Can a man put the thought of a delicious dish of beans behind him long enough to mourn his father's death? Alongside these wry questions, other, less mordant perspectives also have their place: an ageing cabaret dancer bestows the blessing of a vanished world on her lover's son; a crippled boy wins subjective victory from objective disaster. In `Friendly Fire', readers will find again the vivid, passionate characters of today's Cairo, clamouring to be heard. `Friendly Fire' also features an introduction by Alaa Al Aswany giving the history of the novella, `The Isam Abd el-Ati Papers', which was banned in Egypt for a decade.
Sex, money and politics are the driving forces of society in this new novel from bestselling author Alaa al Aswany. A medley of Egyptian and American lives collides on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center in a post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound. Among the players are an atheistic anti-establishment American professor of the sixties generation, whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled PhD candidate whose conviction in the code of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an emigre who has fervently embraced his new American identity, but who cannot escape his Egyptian roots when faced with the issue of his daughter's 'honour'; an Egyptian State Security informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America with the sole aim of financing his literary aspirations, but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for. This tightly plotted page-turner is set far from the downtown Cairo of al Aswany's `The Yacoubian Building', but is no less unflinching an examination of contemporary Egyptian lives.
Nine short stories and a novella make up this latest offering by Alaa Al Aswany, author of The Yacoubian Building . As in that novel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and reveals with skill and detachment the hypocrisy, violence, and abuse of power characteristic of a world in moral crisis. Here, though, the focus has shifted from the broad historical canvas to the minute stitches of pain that hold together an individual, a family, a school classroom, or the relationship between a man and a woman. Can a man so alienated from his society that he regards all its members as no better than microbes wriggling under a microscope survive within it? Can cynical religiosity triumph over human decency? Can a man put the thought of a delicious dish of beans behind him long enough to mourn his father's death? Alongside these wry questions, other, less mordant perspectives also have their place: an aging cabaret dancer bestows the blessing of a vanished world on her lover's son; a crippled boy wins subjective victory from objective disaster. In Friendly Fire , readers will find again the vivid, passionate characters of today's Cairo, clamoring to be heard.