Posted by: koolwine | May 6, 2012

Egypt: The Yacoubian Building

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany The disparate residents of a once storied apartment building reflect a microcosm of contemporary Cairo.

Country Focus: Egypt (Misr in Arabic)

The Yacoubian Building
By Alaa Al Aswany
Translated by Humphrey Davies
Originally published in Arabic as Imarat Ya’qubyan, 2002.
My edition: Harper Perennial, 2006.
256 pgs.

Genre: Fiction
Time period:

World Lit Up Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and 5 books = lit up)


Abduh told his neighbors that he worked as Hatim Rasheed’s cook, but they didn’t believe him because they knew about Hatim’s homosexuality and because he would spend the night with him at least twice a week.  Among themselves, they would joke about these “midnight feasts” that Abduh would prepare for his master, knowing the truth and accepting it.  In general their behavior with any deviant person depended on how much they liked him.  If they disliked him, they would rise up against him in defense of virtue, quarrel bitterly with him, and prevent their children from having anything to do with him.  If, on the other hand, they liked him, as they did Abduh, they would forgive him  and deal with him on the basis that he was misled and to be pitied, telling one another that everything in the end was fate and that it was not unlikely that God, Almighty and Glorious, would set him on the straight path – and “How many others have been worse than that but Our Lord set them straight and inspired them and they became saints.”  They would say this smacking their lips and nodding their heads in sympathy.



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