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.
About the Author
ALAA AL ASWANY originally trained as a dentist, and still has his own dental practice in Cairo. He worked for many years in the Yacoubian Building, which gave its name to his debut novel. The Yacoubian Building was longlisted for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006, has sold over one million copies worldwide and was the bestselling novel in the Arab world for over five years. Al Aswany is also the author of Chicago (named by Newsday as the best translated novel of 2006) and Friendly Fire. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages and published in over 100 countries. He speaks Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Al Aswany has received many awards internationally, including the Bashrahil Award for the Arabic novel, the Kafavis Award from Greece, and the Grinzane Cavour Award from Italy, and was recently named by The Times (London) as one of the fifty best authors to have been translated into English over the last fifty years.
Humphrey Davies is an award-winning translator of Arabic literature from the Ottoman period to the present. Writers he has translated include Yusuf al-Shirbini, Elias Khoury, Alaa Al Aswany, Bahaa Taher, Muhammad Mustagab, Gamal al-Ghitani, Hamdy el-Gazzar, Khaled Al-Berry, and Ahmed Alaidy. He lives in Cairo.
“[A] hilarious, sensual, bawdy and beautiful novel.”
“Captivating and controversial .. . .an amazing glimpse of modern Egyptian society and culture.”
-New York Review of Books
“...tremendously likable.... This vision of life connects high with low, rich with poor, through shared vices and needs.”
-San Francisco Chronicle