Alaa Al Aswany’s empathy and perceptive detail in this novel about the An actual downtown Cairo landmark called the Yacoubian Building is. The Yacoubian Building [Alaa Al Aswany] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Yacoubian Building. : The Yacoubian Building: A Novel (): Alaa Al Aswany: Books.

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It has been filmed by Marwan Hamed with a care and expense unprecedented in the Egyptian cinema.

THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING – Words Without Borders

These strands are only loosely connected, but they are all dominated by violence. Through them Al Aswany explores the abuses of power and the corruption that permeate Egypt, bui,ding the highest levels of government and business down to the employment of the police as paid thugs in domestic disputes. The Yacoubian Building follows the lives of several of the residents. The moment you take power, they submit to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with them.

A street in the sky

Yet Aswany is so good-natured that even his terrorist is allowed to enjoy, before his martyrdom, a paradisial marriage portrayed in the shimmering palette sl gihadi bad taste. Egyptian novels novels Arabic-language novels in fiction Novels set in Cairo. Khaled Diab, in an article entitled Cultural rainbowsexplores this aspect of the novel, and how this can help change popular attitudes to homosexuality in the Arab world. It is also only as of late that authors and filmmakers have begun to examine the omnipotent presence of religion in their society.

Together, they give a biting condemnation of a nation that has squandered its promise and which has been forced to compromise its own principles, resulting in a corrupt and undemocratic political system dominated by a single party the fictitious “Patriotic Party”, a thinly veiled version of Egypt’s National Democratic Partya society whose most talented members abandon the country for promising careers abroad, and an increasingly disenchanted and restive populace that has no loyalty to the thf and which sees extremist Islam as one of the few viable options to counter growing poverty, economic stagnation, and a perceived degradation of morals and lack of social cohesion.


When Hagg Muhammad Azzam, desperate to protect his business interests, seeks a meeting with “the Big Man” at his cement Versailles, he is greeted not by a person but by a disembodied voice through a loudspeaker.

But now that this highly popular and controversial book is being made into a big-budget Egyptian film, one can’t help but wonder if the author’s cinematic-like approach was not a calculated decision all along. In fact, The Yacoubian Building is arguably oversexed, too many of the characters too simplistically driven by lust, such as Hatim: The Yacoubian Building is the sort of dense neighbourhood novel which, though quite out of style when set in London or Paris, has been revived for the banlieue of downtown Cairo.

Al Aswany, a dentist by profession and a regular contributor to Egyptian newspapers and magazines, derisively portrays the contradiction between many of the protagonists’ thoughts, actions and utterances sl their piousness. The Yacoubian building itself is a once-handsome art deco block on the boulevard known now as Talaat Harb, but here called by its old name of Suleiman Basha Street.

The Yacoubian Building

Was this intentional irony on the part of Al Aswany? The Yacoubian Building is entertaining and does offer a good overview of contemporary Cairo life, but with its many stories and its simplifications can feel more like it skims the surface than truly explores the many hidden depths even as it shares so many intimacies. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

Along the way, he is beaten and humiliated by the police, his ideals and any possible last belief in the integrity of the Egyptian state and system shaken beyond repair — though even in the final confrontation it is the personal affront that drives him to action and that also leads him to fail in the larger objectives, as Al Aswany offers a man driven to militancy for personal reasons, not Islamic ideals.

Meanwhile, the tailor Malak Khilla and his brother Abaskharon manoeuvre and conspire to take over first a rooftop room and then an apartment. It’s not just the state that is a failure, however: There’s moral decay throughout The Yacoubian Buildingbut Al Aswany does not so much condemn immorality per se, but rather the double standards, especially where money and influence are involved.


The book was made into a film of the same name in and into a TV series in The Yacoubian Building of the title is a microcosm of much of Cairo, and in telling the stories of various of its denizens Alaa Al Aswany offers a colourful picture of contemporary Egypt. Their intercourse on the first night was simple and spontaneous, as though she had been his wife for years.

In following Talal’s ascension to martyrdom, the author illustrates the Egyptian government’s vicious clamping down on Islamists, a policy that the book suggests has only fed the hatred the young feel for their leaders and aggrandized their sense of betrayal. While more concerned with everyday survival and comforts than the faith Taha begins professing, she too is affected by the prevailing corrupt conditions — in her case, the way men treat women.

The mounting pressure of life down-at- the-heels leads to more than one act of violence and Al Aswany deftly builds awsany the asany to the boiling point.

It is only recently that Arab film and literature have started to approach the subject of sex with unflinching openness. Our Lord created the Egyptians to accept government authority. Published in Egypt in as Imarat Yaqubyan, the novel has been a bestseller in Arabic. And there is Hatim Rasheed, the homosexual newspaper editor, whose lover Abduh has a wife and child and is torn between the money being Hatim’s boy-toy means and the guilt of sinning in this way.

Not for the first or last time it’s shown that money and connexions are what counts, not abilities or diligence. Rags-to-riches millionaire Hagg Azzam has installed his secret second wife Souad in one of the apartments.

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