CHICAGO ALAA AL ASWANI PDF

N ovels about migrants are everywhere at present. Most of these writers can be said to approach the subject with optimism, in that they believe that the goal of making a successful life in a new country is eminently achievable. It's a view that is encouraged by the present-day reality of mass migration, as well as by the other accoutrements of globalisation. Thanks to travel, the internet and satellite television, the boundaries between countries seem more permeable than they used to, and these days when you move abroad you can take many aspects of your old life with you. It remains possible, though, to doubt whether migration can ever be a wholly successful enterprise, and this is broadly what Alaa al Aswany does in his new novel, Chicago. Like his last book, The Yacoubian Building, Chicago is an up-close portrait of an Egyptian community, although this time its members are not the residents of a Cairo apartment block but the students and faculty members of the University of Illinois Medical Centre.

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Since the publication of his successful debut The Yacoubian Building , Alaa Al Aswany has become one of Egypt's most celebrated writers, a vocal opponent to the corruption and nepotism that have characterized President Mubarek's regime.

Their storylines are connected through the Department of Histology at the University of Illinois, and histology—the microscopic study of cross-sections of biological tissues—offers a fitting analogy for Al Aswany's narrative technique: a poetic examination of the delicate anatomy of ordinary life. Al Aswany overlaps slices of the daily acts of his myriad characters who are linked to one another through a shared place.

In The Yacoubian Building , that place is an apartment complex in Cairo, a microcosm of post Egypt. An academic department, however, is a site that brings together individuals from a variety of national and cultural backgrounds. In both novels, Al Aswany illustrates that the cruelties of domesticity marital infidelities, self-destructive children are inextricable from the brutalities of larger political forces—domestic and international.

Nagi Abd al-Samad, an Egyptian student at Illinois, engages in both histology and poetry. He is the only first-person narrator in the novel and therefore takes on roles of author and activist, mirroring the multitasking of Al Aswany, who is himself also a practicing dentist in Cairo.

Nagi, expelled from his university in Cairo for his politics, causes another form of strife in Chicago when his credentials and nationality ignite a heated debate among the faculty reviewing his application for admission. Al Aswany navigates not only the mistreatment of Cairenes in the U. He offers vivid histories for these various conflicts, beginning with the Algonquins who lived as farmers in Chicago until settlers arrived in the late seventeenth-century and massacred them in the name of God: a massacre that reminds readers that racism and religious persecution were intrinsic to the founding of the U.

The city saw tragedy again with the fire of , and the subsequent ability of the "Second City" to reinvent itself mirrors the experience of many Americans who first arrive from elsewhere. Al Aswany was a student in Chicago in the eighties, and there are times when his descriptions are somewhat dated. A white professor is involved with a young black woman who cannot get herself hired and falls into the hands of an exploitative photographer.

Her job-seeking efforts are conducted exclusively through newspaper classifieds, and both her plight and her methods seem anachronistic and over-simplified. But Chicago is written for an Egyptian audience first, and any inconsistencies that consequently arise do not detract from its author's empathy for even his most unpleasant characters.

The clarity and humor with which Al Aswany treats the intricacies of the characters' relationships make Chicago a poignant and captivating read. Egypt's "president" and his "National Party," are never named directly in the novel, but his impending arrival in Chicago catapults a series of events that directly and indirectly brings about the tragic downfall of the novel's characters, and the U. Ultimately, Chicago is a truly brave work, and its translation offers Americans a provocative, vital perspective on the U.

Stefanie Sobelle writes about contemporary fiction for Words Without Borders, Bookforum, and a variety of other publications. Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.

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Between two worlds

Since the publication of his successful debut The Yacoubian Building , Alaa Al Aswany has become one of Egypt's most celebrated writers, a vocal opponent to the corruption and nepotism that have characterized President Mubarek's regime. Their storylines are connected through the Department of Histology at the University of Illinois, and histology—the microscopic study of cross-sections of biological tissues—offers a fitting analogy for Al Aswany's narrative technique: a poetic examination of the delicate anatomy of ordinary life. Al Aswany overlaps slices of the daily acts of his myriad characters who are linked to one another through a shared place. In The Yacoubian Building , that place is an apartment complex in Cairo, a microcosm of post Egypt. An academic department, however, is a site that brings together individuals from a variety of national and cultural backgrounds. In both novels, Al Aswany illustrates that the cruelties of domesticity marital infidelities, self-destructive children are inextricable from the brutalities of larger political forces—domestic and international.

A TREASURE TROVE OF SCRIPTURAL TRANSMISSION PDF

Out of Egypt

The result, at least for American readers, is perplexing, like a fun-house mirror in which we recognize ourselves only intermittently. With the vaguest of physical description, it functions merely as an exotic backdrop, alien and menacing to the Egyptian characters who have journeyed there. A slap on the face and lack of interest in foreplay are insufficient, her mother advises. One man, impotent after decades of marriage to an American woman, is haunted by the memory of an Egyptian girl he once loved, an activist who called him a coward for abandoning his homeland.

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