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The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
The Yacoubian Building is based on an actual building in Cairo, built in 1934 for a wealthy Armenian and populated over the years by the wealthy, army officers and their families, middle class families, and in Alaa Al Aswany's novel, a mixture of minor wealth in its larger apartments and poor immigrants from the countryside who live in shacks on the roof. The characters include an elderly womanizer with nostalgia for the days before the Nasser revolution, the doorman's son who becomes involved with Islamists after being unhappy with the limited possibilities for his life, his girlfriend who tries to maintain her honor despite constant sexual harassment, a gay newspaper editor from an aristocratic background, and a newly wealthy man comfortable with greed and corruption and interested in buying a wife. Alaa Al Aswany's novel of a complex and vibrant Cairo has received mostly positive reviews with The Telegraph saying, "Al Aswany manages to capture the challenges facing much of the developing world, and weaves an extra dimension into this superbly crafted feat of storytelling."
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