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Chicago
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About the Author

Alaa Al Aswany is the internationally bestselling author of The Yacoubian Building and Chicago. A journalist who writes a controversial opposition column, Al Aswany makes his living as a dentist in Cairo.

Reviews

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.

"While the book explores political points, it's ultimately a pluralist drama, complete with cliffhangers."--Washington Post Express
"Al Aswany writes about his Egyptian characters with charm, gentle humor, and genuine conviction."--New York Times Book Review
"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
"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's knack for making the personal political."--New York magazine

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