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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This article is about the novel. Aswany’s is an altogether more worldly Egypt, and one that is in a hurry to get somewhere or other.

Mahfouz set his novel in a poor working-class district, seeking to portray the changes wrought by the second world war, and the British Eighth Army, to sexual morals and long-lived social traditions. Though this is sometimes strained, it holds up well enough, and though the characters represent different classes and backgrounds, they are also individuals. Even men are reduced to a form of semi-prostitution.

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 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.

It’s not just the state that is a failure, however: Through them Al Aswany explores the abuses of power and the corruption that permeate Egypt, from the highest levels of government and business down to the employment of the police as paid thugs in domestic disputes. Meanwhile, the tailor Malak Khilla la his brother Abaskharon manoeuvre and conspire to take over first a rooftop room and then an apartment. The complete review ‘s Review:.

Maybe that sounds better in the Arabic original It is balanced by a wedding in a whisky bar, where a good-hearted French bhilding, a survivor of the good times, buidling “La Yacoubbian en Rose”. On the roof of the ten-story building are fifty small rooms one for each apartmentno more than two meters by two meters in area, which were originally used as storage areas and not as living quarters for human beings, but after wealthy residents began moving from downtown Cairo to suburbs such as Medinet Nasr and Mohandessin in the s, the rooms were gradually taken over by overwhelmingly poor migrants from the Egyptian countryside, arriving in Cairo in the hopes of finding employment.


But Al Aswany goes to great length to also show how these people are all victims of their merciless society: The Yacoubian Building unfolds in the former European quarter downtown at the time of the Gulf war. Corruption — moral and otherwise ql is endemic, and the authorities, in particular, do not come off well.

The book focuses mainly on the residents of the Yacoubian building, a once-chic but now rundown edifice that acts as a metaphor for Cairo’s own deterioration. 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. He’s done everything to ensure that he’ll get a spot in the Police Academy, with builing one final hurdle standing in his way, the formality of the character interview.

The plotting is neat, the episodes are funny and biilding, and there are deaths and weddings aplenty. It’s a solid picture of this society if, again, far too simplistic in many regards and isn’t tendentious or too obvious in its critique.

For all the Mahfouzian decor – prostitution, hashish, homosexuality – there is none of the oddity, even clownishness, of character or the intensity of savour and texture of Midaq Alley.

The Yacoubian Building

Hatim, after all, not only arranges work and lodging for his lover but also promises to pay for anything Abduh’s wife or son might need. 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. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Their intercourse on the first night was simple and spontaneous, as though she had been his wife for years.

Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend has to sell herself to make ends meet.

It is undoubtedly this groundbreaking literary rendition of Egyptian realism, served with a heavy dose of humor, that has made the book such a hit with the local audience two years runningand that, despite the awkward translation in parts, renders it an entertaining and revelatory read for those intrigued by Egyptian culture. Fiction Alaa al-Aswany reviews.


It has been translated into 23 languages. It is only recently that Arab film and literature have started to approach the subject of sex with unflinching openness. Nearer at hand, it stands midway between the foundation novel of Egyptian Arabic, Naguib Mahfouz’s Zaqaq al Midaq Midaq Alley, and the modern Egyptian television serial.

There’s a lot of sex in the novel, too — including such colourful descriptions as: Following that lead, The Yacoubian Building is filled with sexual harassment, promiscuity, homosexuality, and even pedophilia, all described in graphic detail.

The Yacoubian Building (Alaa Al Aswany) – book review

The moment you take power, they submit to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with them. 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 assany 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.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

alaaa This page was last edited on 27 Juneat The Yacoubian Building is not heavy going: After the revolution inwhich overthrew King Farouk and gave power to Gamal Abdel Nassermany of the rich foreigners, as well as native landowners and businessmen, who had lived at the Yacoubian fled the country. Taha el Shazli, the son of the doorman, has his heart set on becoming a policeman, but though he does brilliantly at school and meets all the requirements, he is aswant because of his background.

The Egyptians are the easiest people in the world to rule.

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