Alaa Al Aswany, a dentist and opposition journalist in Cairo, broke onto the literary scene in with “The Yacoubian Building,” a novel. Chicago (Arabic: شيكاغو Shīkāgū) is a novel by Egyptian author Alaa-Al- Aswany. Published in Arabic in and in an English translation in The locale. chicago has 11 ratings and 2 reviews. Meron said: I loved this book! First of all it was amazing reading about the historical context of post 9/11 Americ.
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Chicago by Alaa Al Aswany. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review ‘s biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.
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Such a concentration of Egyptian histologists, both as faculty and students, is hard to believe, but then so are many of Aswany’s American details — but then Chicago isn’t meant to shine a light on America, and turns out to be as much an Egyptian novel as The Yacoubian Building was. Indeed, in taking his characters out of their native environment he is able to focus on Egyptian issues and ways particularly well. As in The Yacoubian Building Aswany juggles a number of fates, presenting their ups and downs in short chapters which tend to leave the reader dangling until he returns to them a few chapters later.
It’s an effective story-telling technique, and along with the storylines he develops helps get over the relatively crude writing.
Banipal (UK) Magazine of Modern Arab Literature – Book Reviews – Chicago by Alaa Al-Aswany
The issues covered in the personal problems of the character include everything from the treatment of the Coptic minority in Egypt which forced one character to abandon the career he originally had hoped to pursue and the expectations of female virtue outside of marriage to the long reach of the Egyptian secret police.
Particularly appealing about the novel is the forthrightness with which Aswany addresses the issue of Egypt’s contemporary political corruption and asdani the name of the leader that’s at the rotting head of this administration, Hosni Mubarak, is never mentioned, but he is often and unmistakably referred to, and one of the central occurrences in the book is a state visit that takes him to Chicago.
Political allegiance and connexions still overwhelm merit, though Chicago does offer enough distance to allow some of the characters more leeway.
Particularly interesting are the older characters, in some cases completely Americanized — and yet still not free of their Egyptian roots. The soap-opera plot includes one aswaji losing his daughter to drug addiction, but everywhere sex is one of the big problems including in aswxni case, where, of course, it was the bohemian artist-boyfriend that introduced the lass to hard drugs.
Aswany does not shy away from sex. Often it’s of the rather desperate sort — especially when that female virtue is meant to stay untouched — though at least one character does find a good measure of release and happiness when she shells out for a vibrator.
There are also several break-ups here, and sex — often of the forced, or at least coerced variety — plays a role in some of them as asdani.
Unfortunately, too, the sex descriptions are generally of the very cringe-inducing sort: Political activism also crops up repeatedly, from the cruelly powerful representatives of the government who try to pressure all into quiet obeisance to those who look for opportunities to oppose the Egyptian powers that be.
One doctor still regrets having failed even to take futile steps decades earlier, while one student now takes some risks in trying to at least send a message to the present-day regime.
Still, despite there being considerable complaints about the current situation in Egypt, the political activism is rather limited and quaint — a signed protest they want to deliver to the president is about as challenging as it gets. In fact, it is the government toady and informant, Ahmad Danana, the head of the Egyptian Student Union in America, who is by far the most interesting character — in no small part because he is mainly occupied with various machinations, instead of his studies, and Aswany isn’t particularly good on academic life but has fun ideas as far machinations go.
There are some nice zingers against current Egyptian conditions, including: I don’t want to take you from work. Working here just means showing up.
chicago by Alaa Al Aswany
We always have extra time. Life inAmerica, Nagi, is like American fruit: In fact, so much of the American detail he offers, from his cartoon Chicago to faculty meetings to decide whether a student should be admitted or not “Anyone who fulfills the requirements of the department is entitled to enroll” is definitely not the rule of thumb for the limited spots in American graduate school science departmentsis so wrong — and exactly wrong in the way one might expect an author who had read about a foreign country but never visited it to get it — that one has to suspect that Aswany who has studied in America is actually writing down to chicgao Egyptian audience, meeting asaani expectations of America — this is how they imagine it — rather than trying to present an accurate picture of it.
Aswany spins a decent story, most of the way, and he spins and juggles quite a few here.
Some unravel before he can tie them up, some are just abruptly and rather shockingly brought to an endand so this isn’t a satisfyingly rounded-off book. Still, even with the writing as rough as it is, there’s an undeniable aswzni here, and it is both readable and, in some ways, illuminating. Chicago isn’t a very good book, but there’s enough to it — and too few others like it from that region — to make it worthwhile.
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