Alaa Al Aswany has won resounding critical acclaim for his deft and moving portrayals of the lives of contemporary Egyptians who constantly examine their relationship with Egypt's history, religion, class, and gender distinctions. In Friendly Fire he once again demonstrates an extraordinary empathy for lost and searching souls as he focuses on the exquisite emotions of everyday life.
In "The Kitchen Boy" and "Dearest Sister Makarim," Al Aswany explores the hypocrisy of the class divide. The brief and tender "Izzat Amin Iskandar" is a heartrending view of youthful hope. And in the unforgettable novella "The Isam Abd el-Ati Papers," the narrator carries us along a troubling journey through his painful relationships with his artist father and his self-centered mother, en route to a devastating collision of temptation and morality.
Here are stories of generational conflict, love, repression, and the clash of Western and Arab ideals, all beautifully rendered by a true modern master.
About the Author
ALAA AL ASWANY originally trained as a dentist, and still has his own dental practice in Cairo. He worked for many years in the Yacoubian Building, which gave its name to his debut novel. The Yacoubian Building was longlisted for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006, has sold over one million copies worldwide and was the bestselling novel in the Arab world for over five years. Al Aswany is also the author of Chicago (named by Newsday as the best translated novel of 2006) and Friendly Fire. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages and published in over 100 countries. He speaks Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Al Aswany has received many awards internationally, including the Bashrahil Award for the Arabic novel, the Kafavis Award from Greece, and the Grinzane Cavour Award from Italy, and was recently named by The Times (London) as one of the fifty best authors to have been translated into English over the last fifty years.
Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1805 or 1806-1887) was a foundational figure in modern Arabic literature. Born to a prominent Maronite family in Lebanon, al-Shidyaq was a pioneering publisher, poet, essayist, lexicographer and translator. Known as "the father of Arabic journalism," al-Shidyaq played a major role in reviving and modernizing the Arabic language.
“Al Aswany masterfully deciphers the forces behind social polarization over class, gender, race, religion, and politics, tracking the pendulum swings from sympathy to hate, dream to despair, sorrow to resignation, and refusing simple answers and tidy conclusions.”
“A startling first collection, elegant yet pointedly sharp-tongued and sarcastic…. Al Aswany is an insightful student of the human condition whose trenchant characters evoke a weird hybrid of Albert Camus and Charles Bukowski; the strange landscape depicted is at once painful and playful, rich in meaning and understatement.”
“At times al-Aswany’s stories are heartbreaking, at times they are uncomfortable, at times hilarious, but no matter what the mood, his work is always steeped in the greywater of humanity.”
-Virginia Quarterly Review