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 is also only as of late that authors and filmmakers have begun to examine the omnipotent presence of religion in their society. Some of the stories also are a bit te simple, but Al Aswany writes engagingly enough, and he cuts ao and forth effectively between the various and varied lives, making for an gripping read.

Al Aswany is more interested in showing a broader picture of Egyptian life, a sort of realistic panorama — but the conditions, of course, allow him to point out the many flaws of contemporary Egypt in doing so.

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

The moment you take power, they biulding to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with aala. The Yacoubian Building is entertaining and does offer a yxcoubian 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.

Along the way, he is beaten and buildint 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 Rhe Aswany offers a man driven to militancy for personal reasons, not Islamic ideals.

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.

THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING – Words Without Borders

The veil of power is intact. On the roof of the ten-story building are fifty small rooms one yavoubian 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.

November External links: He installs his young conscript lover Abduh in one of the rooms on the roof for convenience, and for a short while this gives him stability in his love life.


The complete review ‘s Review:. On the roof, the shirtmaker Malak is working out a deep-laid plan to capture an apartment downstairs.

Al Aswany’s Egypt is a cruel place, one that forces many of its citizens into compromising situations. Busayna comes to accept her employer’s groping in the backroom because she has a yacouvian to support; Souad pretends to enjoy sex with her elderly husband because he can provide for her son from another marriage. Little gets done in Al Aswany’s Egypt without wastabribery.

A street in the sky

The locale of the novel is downtown Cairowith the titular apartment building which actually exists serving as both a metaphor for contemporary Egypt and a unifying location in which most of the primary characters either live or work and in which much of the novel’s action takes place. She learns that if she wants to keep her job she has to put up with the very unwanted attentions of her boss; after getting repeatedly fired, she finally gives in, letting shopkeeper Talal rub up against her and play with her body There’s a lot of sex in the novel, too — including such colourful descriptions as: The bestselling Arabic novel of andin translation The Yacoubian Building offers outsiders a lop-sided but revealing view of Egyptian society.

Zaki Bey el Dessouki is an aging womaniser who looks back with nostalgia at the good old days; he shares an apartment with his sister until she throws him out and attempts to have him declared incompetent.

Mahfouz always doubted whether virtue could survive on buildinng empty stomach. When Taha proves too honest for the Police Academy, he drifts towards Muslim militancy and away from Buhayna, who is meanwhile finding that there are ways of making money out of men without ruining herself for the marriage market.

The Yacoubian Building – Wikipedia

There’s the sex-obsessed Zaki Bey, and his servant Abaskharon — and Abaskharon’s brother Malak, who gets a toehold on the Yacoubian roof and underhandedly manages to take hold yacouvian other bits and pieces, with designs for even more. And there is Hatim Rasheed, the homosexual newspaper editor, whose lover Abduh has a yaacoubian and child and is torn between the money being Hatim’s boy-toy means and the guilt of sinning in this way.

The Yacoubian Building unfolds in the former European quarter downtown at the time of the Gulf war. The Yacoubian Building is fast-moving and action-packed, with drama in every scene and shifts between the different strands used to provide tension.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Other characters include Hagg Azzam, who runs for and wins a seat in the People’s Assembly — believing that this will give him even greater power and the opportunity to make an enormous amount of money without realising that by accepting the help of those who put him in this position he has essentially sold his soul to yacubian devil and is at their mercy.

Taha el Shazli, the son of assany doorman, has his heart set on becoming a policeman, but though he does brilliantly at school and meets all the requirements, he is rejected because of his background.

While Busayna gives into her dejection until she herself becomes as indifferent and heartless as her surroundings, Talal seeks solace-and reparation-in Islam. The truth is that in Mubarak’s Asany, just as in Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad or qswany the shah’s Tehran, sex is one thing but the boss is quite another, and the difference is a matter of life and death.


The Yacoubian building itself is a once-handsome bkilding deco block on the boulevard known now as Talaat Harb, but here called by its old name of Suleiman Basha Street. Rags-to-riches millionaire Hagg Azzam has installed his secret second wife Souad in one of the apartments. Was this intentional irony on the part of Al Aswany? 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

It says so in the history books. 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. But now that this highly popular and controversial book biulding 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.

No Egyptian can go against his government. Aside from those regarding sex “As for the thf, and without regard for their degree of religiosity or morality, they all love sex enormously and will whisper the secrets of the bed to one another” there are only a few sweeping statements too obviously placed — generally regarding the state of this society, such as the cynical: Aswany’s is an altogether more worldly Egypt, and one that is in a hurry to get somewhere or other.

He uncovers hypocrisies of power, religion, and love, but he refrains from judgement, leaving the reader to make their own evaluations. The plotting is neat, the episodes are funny and sad, and there are deaths and weddings aplenty. While Mahfouz had a greater success in English and French than in his mother tongue, the Arabic Yacoubian is alaw in its ninth edition.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs. Embittered, he becomes involved with an Islamist student movement, and then is picked up by the security forces. Meanwhile, the tailor Malak Khilla and his brother Abaskharon manoeuvre and conspire to take over first a rooftop room and then an apartment. The moment you take power, they submit to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with them.

Even Islamic militancy, or what the Egyptians call gihad, is just a drug aswanj Black Label whisky or picking up police recruits or dope or groping young women on crowded buses in Tahrir Square. All goes well until the final question — “Your father — what’s his profession, Taha?