Synopses & Reviews
The author of the highly acclaimed The Yacoubian Building returns with a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition set in Chicago, with a cast of American and Arab characters achingly human in their desires and needs.
Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in this extraordinary and eagerly anticipated new novel from Alaa Al Aswany. Among the players are a sixties-style anti-establishment professor whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled PhD candidate whose belief in the principles of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an émigré whose fervent desire to embrace his American identity is tested when he is faced with the issue of his daughter's "honor"; an Egyptian informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America to finance his literary aspirations but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for.
Populated by a cast of intriguing, true-to-life characters, Chicago offers an illuminating portrait of America—a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, licentiousness and tender love, small dramas and big dreams, coexist. Beautifully rendered, Chicago is a powerfully engrossing novel of culture and individuality from one of the most original voices in contemporary world literature.
"Egyptian author al Aswany (The Yacoubian Building) weaves a vivid tapestry of clashing cultures in post-9/11 Chicago. Dr. Ra'fat Thabit, an Egyptian-American professor at the University of Illinois Medical School, has burrowed deep into American culture, but finds his identity threatened after his rebellious daughter falls under the sway of a shady boyfriend. Ra'fat's colleague, Dr. Muhammad Shamay, retreats from his American wife into extended reveries of his life in Cairo in the 1970s when he was young and in love with a revolutionary. His histology student, Nagi Abd al-Samad, really wants to be a poet. Nagi begins a relationship with an American girl named Wendy (who just so happens to be Jewish). Meanwhile, Shymaa Muhammadi, a medical student who wears a veil, finds her traditional values under siege when Tariq Haseeb, another Egyptian med student, begins seducing her with dogged persistence. The characters are beautifully realized Ra'fat's family trouble is especially well done and though their cumulative effect is muted, each of the story lines is individually compelling." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“...Al Aswanys knack for making the personal political.” New York magazine
“Aswany sensitively probes the nature of courage and patriotism. . . . [T]he story moves in surprising directions, and the ambiguity of life is well reflected in an unabashedly untidy conclusion. The New Yorker
“While the book explores political points, its ultimately a pluralist drama, complete with cliffhangers.” Washington Post Express
“Egyptian author Al Aswany weaves a vivid tapestry of clashing cultures in post 9/11 Chicago. . . . The characters are beautifully realized [and] each of the story lines is individually compelling.” Publishers Weekly
“Al Aswany writes about his Egyptian characters with charm, gentle humor, and genuine conviction.” New York Times Book Review
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 ??migr?? who has fervently embraced his new American identity, but who cannot escape his Egyptian roots when faced with the issue of his daughter??'s ???honor???; 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.In this tightly plotted page-turner, details of intimate pleasures and pains are injected with snippets of human history, ranging from the plight of Native Americans to the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Muslims in medieval Spain. The interplay of private and public sheds light on key global issues of our day, particularly racial and religious tensions in an increasingly paranoid world. Chicago 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 new novel from the author of the international bestseller, The Yacoubian Building
From Alaa Al Aswany, the author of the highly-acclaimed The Yacoubian Building, comes a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition set in the midwestern city with a cast of American and Arab characters achingly human in their desires and needs. Chicago offers an illuminating portrait of America—a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, licentiousness and tender love, small dramas and big dreams, coexist.
About the Author
Internationally bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany was born in 1957. A dentist by profession, he is the author of The Yacoubian Building, which has been translated into twenty languages, and the story collection Friendly Fire, which will be published in English in 2009. He lives in Cairo.