Sex, money, and politics are the driving forces of society in this new novel from bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany. A medley of Egyptian and American lives collides on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center in a post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound. Among the players are an atheistic anti-establishment American professor of the sixties generation, whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled Ph.D. candidate whose conviction in the code of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an emigre who has fervently embraced his new American identity, but who cannot escape his Egyptian roots when faced with the issue of his daughter's 'honour'; an Egyptian State Security informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America with the sole aim of financing his literary aspirations, but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for.This tightly plotted page-turner is set far from the downtown Cairo of Al Aswany's "The Yacoubian Building", but is no less unflinching an examination of contemporary Egyptian lives. / 'The Yacoubian Building has sold over 50,000 copies. / The new novel from internationally acclaimed author Alaa al Aswany, it is guaranteed extensive review and feature coverage. / 'The Yacoubian Building' was made into the highest budgeted film in Egyptian cinema history / Major profile interview with national broadsheet newspaper already secured for publication.
Alaa Al Aswany was born in 1957. He is a dentist by profession, and for many years practiced in the Yacoubian Building which was to form the setting for his bestselling novel of the same name. He has written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers on politics, literature and social issues.
In this absorbing novel by best-selling Egyptian author Al Aswany (The Yacoubian Building), Egyptian medical students and professors at the University of Illinois Medical School experience various culture clashes and interpersonal problems. Shy and seemingly very religious, Shaymaa finds herself lost in her new life until she begins a relationship with the brilliant but repressed and miserable Tariq. This is the first relationship for each, and the author traces their emotional and sexual trials and failures as the two become closely attached. Another story line concerns a professor whose daughter has taken up with a young American artist and has followed him out of her parents' house and into cocaine addiction and sexual liberation. Egyptian politics and the repressive society under President Mubarak affect the lives of all expatriates, as evidenced by the presence of an older student named Danana, who is actually an agent of the Egyptian security department. Some of the American characters occasionally do and say things that, possibly as a result of the translation, strike discordant notes. Otherwise, the author is a fine, observant storyteller, and there is a warmth and intelligence informing these mostly sad stories. Recommended for larger collections.--Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"The only Arabic-language novel to have created greater buzz and sell more copies since 'The Yacoubian Building' is Al Aswany's second novel, 'Chicago' ... a rare opportunity to consider the contemporary Egyptian condition." Financial Times "Al Aswany's rich tableaux of everyday lives and devastating social commentary have made him a wildly popular novelist in his native Egypt and the best-selling Arab writer both in the Middle East and abroad ... 'Chicago' is a powerful indictment of dictatorship and its corrosive effect on human dignity." TIME