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Alaa al Aswani

Born in 1957, Alaa al Aswani is a dentist-turned-writer who has was written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers on literature, politics and social issues.

He was made famous by The Yacoubian Building (Imarat Yaacoubian), published in 2002, which for several years was reputedly the best-selling novel in Arabic. It depicts the ills of modern Egypt through the inhabitants of a once-fashionable apartment block in downtown Cairo. Though the characters are fictitious, the Yacoubian Building actually exists - it is where Aswani's first dental surgery was based.

Publisher's description: "From the pious son of the building's doorkeeper and the raucous, impoverished squatters on its roof, via the tattered aristocrat and the gay intellectual in its apartments, to the ruthless businessman whose stores occupy its ground floor, each sharply etched character embodies a facet of modern Egypt - where political corruption, ill-gotten wealth, and religious hypocrisy are natural allies, where the arrogance and defensiveness of the powerful find expression in the exploitation of the weak, where youthful idealism can turn quickly to extremism, and where an older, less violent vision of society may yet prevail."

Profile of Alaa al Aswani: Egypt Today, August 2004.

The Yacoubian Building: Excerpts from Chapter 1  


Dreams deferred 
Review of The Yacoubian Building by Mona el-Ghobashy, Cairo Times, 20 June, 2002

A house falls apart 
Review of The Yacoubian Building by Amina Elbendary, al-Ahram Weekly, 13 June, 2002

The Yacoubian Building 
Reviewed by "Moorishgirl", 20 July, 2005

'Yacoubian Building' houses uncomfortable truths 
National Public Radio on the filming of Aswani's novel

Yusra fights corruption with Adel Imam 
Albawaba website, November 30, 2004


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The Yacoubian Building
a novel by Alaa Al Aswany

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Last revised on 04 August, 2015