The Yacoubian Building: A Novel

      Alaa Al Aswany
The Yacoubian Building: A Novel

This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption, sexual repression, religious extremism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.

All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.

These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.


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    The Automobile Club of Egypt

      Alaa Al Aswany
The Automobile Club of Egypt

Once a respected landowner, Abd el-Aziz Gaafar fell into penury and moved his family to Cairo, where he was forced into menial work at the Automobile Club—a refuge of colonial luxury for its European members. There, Alku, the lifelong Nubian retainer of Egypt's corrupt and dissolute king, lords it over the staff, a squabbling but tight-knit group, who live in perpetual fear, as they are thrashed for their mistakes, their wages dependent on Alku's whims. When, one day, Abd el-Aziz stands up for himself, he is beaten. Soon afterward, he dies, as much from shame as from his injuries, leaving his widow and four children further impoverished. The family's loss propels them down different paths: the responsible son, Kamel, takes over his late father’s post in the Club's storeroom, even as his law school friends seduce him into revolutionary politics; Mahmud joins his brother working at the Club but spends his free time sleeping with older women — for a fee, which he splits with his partner in crime, his devil-may-care workout buddy and neighbor, Fawzy; their greedy brother Said breaks away to follow ambitions of his own; and their only sister, Saleha, is torn between her dream of studying mathematics and the security of settling down as a wife and saving her family.

It is at the Club, too, that Kamel's dangerous politics will find the favor and patronage of the king's seditious cousin, an unlikely revolutionary plotter–cum–bon vivant. Soon, both servants and masters will be subsumed by the brewing social upheaval. And the Egyptians of the Automobile Club will face a stark choice: to live safely, but without dignity, or to fight for their rights and risk everything.

Full of absorbing incident, and marvelously drawn characters, Alaa Al Aswany's novel gives us Egypt on the brink of changes that resonate to this day. It is an irresistible confirmation of Al Aswany's reputation as one of the Middle East's most beguiling storytellers and insightful interpreters of the human spirit.


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    On the State of Egypt: A Novelist's Provocative Reflections

      Alaa Al Aswany
On the State of Egypt: A Novelist's Provocative Reflections

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.


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