"Top of my list is The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswamy (Harper Perennial). The book has been a best seller in its native Egypt and throughout the Arabic world since publication in 2002. Set in downtown Cairo at the time of the 1990 Gulf War, it reveals modern Egyptian life through the eyes of a diverse range of characters an aristocratic playboy, a gay newspaper editor, a religious zealot, childhood sweethearts all of whom live in the same apartment building. Cairo hasn't been so vividly - or sexily - evoked since Naguib Mahfouz's Palace Walk. " --The Guardian
About the Author
Alaa Al Aswany
was born in 1957. A dentist whose first office was in the Yacoubian Building, Al Aswany has written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers across the political spectrum on literature, politics, and social issues. Humphrey Davies
earned his doctorate in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the translator of Thebes at War
by Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press, 2003). He was awarded the 2010 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Yalo
by Elias Khoury.