The Yacoubian Building

by Alaa Al Aswany | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0007243626 Global Overview for this book
Registered by goldenwattle of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on 10/2/2010
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15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by goldenwattle from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Saturday, October 02, 2010
ABOUT THE BOOK:
This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption, sexual repression, religious extremism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.

All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendour now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.
These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.

Journal Entry 2 by goldenwattle at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Saturday, October 30, 2010
I enjoyed the read. Lives lived in and on The Yacoubian apartment building. Bit like a 'soap' opera.
Now I am offering it as a Bookray.
Bookray

LIST:
rmjwold (Australia)
Simson-Shilitoe (France)
GronnLivsstil (Norway)
babydoll857 (UK)
Lydiasbooks (UK)
sintra (Germany)
frutz (Luxembourg)
Lizzy-stardust (UK)
Icila (France)
J4shaw (Australia)
Sherlockfan (New Zealand)
ReetPetite (UK)
RonOren (UK)


This Bookray has finished. RonOren, please feel free to start another Bookray, RABCK, put it in a book box, or if no-one wants it, to wild release.

Journal Entry 3 by goldenwattle at Parkes, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (11/27/2010 UTC) at Parkes, Australian Capital Territory Australia

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I will attempt to get more readers for this BookRay, so I will take this along to the Canberra BookCrossing meet, held this month at the National Library of Australia. It's also our Christmas get-together. (Although it doesn't appear so in the photograph, there were about twelve people at the meet.)
Happy Christmas.

Journal Entry 4 by wingRosieCanberrawing at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Saturday, November 27, 2010
Picked up today at the Canberra monthly bookcrossing meet-up at the National Library. Looking forward to reading this, will pass on to the next person in the book-ray listed below.

Journal Entry 5 by wingRosieCanberrawing at Monash, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I enjoyed this book. Great read, complex characters, very upsetting in parts but hard to put down. Life is very cheap in Egypt. Everyone is just out for themselves in this book.
Thanks goldenwattle, I will send on to the next person on the list - Simson-Shilitoe (France) .
cheers!
rmjwold

Journal Entry 6 by Simson-Shilitoe at Neewiller-près-Lauterbourg, Alsace France on Monday, January 03, 2011
The book arrived safely in today`s mail.

Thank you "rmjwold" for posting and "goldenwattle" for sharing.

I am going to start with this book in the evening because all other rings and rays are finished since yesterday.

Journal Entry 7 by Simson-Shilitoe at Neewiller-près-Lauterbourg, Alsace France on Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Reader Reviews from FirstLook:
"The narrative style of The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al-Aswany is deceptively simple. With precise images and poignant stories—really, often just brief character studies that define each individual (living, breathing) resident of the building—Al Aswany creates an intricately woven tapestry of the many and varied levels of society that inhabit the Cairo building. The style is far from simplistic, though: the author has chosen the best and most telling ways to present his characters. As a novel, it is very different from others I've read: the 'story' builds slowly, imperceptibly at times, yet very satisfactorily. I look forward to reading more by Al-Aswany."


A book review by Danny Yee © 2005 http://dannyreviews.com/
Cairo's Yacoubian building is past its prime: the main apartments are no longer lived in by the cream of society and the small rooms on the roof that were originally attached to them are now separately owned by poor families. Notionally set during the 1991 Gulf War but about contemporary Egypt, Alaa Al Aswany's novel The Yacoubian Building follows the lives of several of the building's inhabitants.

Taha el Shazli, the son of the doorman, has his heart set on becoming a policeman, but though he does brilliantly at school and meets all the requirements, he is rejected because of his background. Embittered, he becomes involved with an Islamist student movement, and then is picked up by the security forces. Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend has to sell herself to make ends meet.

Hatim Rasheed is an intellectual, the editor of a leading newspaper, and a homosexual. He installs his young conscript lover Abduh in one of the rooms on the roof for convenience, and for a short while this gives him stability in his love life.

Rags-to-riches millionaire Hagg Azzam has installed his secret second wife Souad in one of the apartments. He buys himself a seat in the People's Assembly and takes advantage of the business openings that brings, but baulks at paying 25% of the proceeds from his import deals as protection.

Zaki Bey el Dessouki is an aging womaniser who looks back with nostalgia at the good old days; he shares an apartment with his sister until she throws him out and attempts to have him declared incompetent. Meanwhile, the tailor Malak Khilla and his brother Abaskharon manoeuvre and conspire to take over first a rooftop room and then an apartment.

These strands are only loosely connected, but they are all dominated by violence. Through them Al Aswany explores the abuses of power and the corruption that permeate Egypt, from the highest levels of government and business down to the employment of the police as paid thugs in domestic disputes. He uncovers hypocrisies of power, religion, and love, but he refrains from judgement, leaving the reader to make their own evaluations. The Yacoubian Building is not heavy going: the mood is never gloomy and there are occasional flashes of joy, most notably associated with sex, of which Al Aswany takes a positive view.

The Yacoubian Building is fast-moving and action-packed, with drama in every scene and shifts between the different strands used to provide tension. Though this is sometimes strained, it holds up well enough, and though the characters represent different classes and backgrounds, they are also individuals. The bestselling Arabic novel of 2002 and 2003, in translation The Yacoubian Building offers outsiders a lop-sided but revealing view of Egyptian society.


Will be followed now by "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"


Posting to "GronnLivsstil" (Norway) as soon as I get an address.

Journal Entry 8 by Simson-Shilitoe at Germersheim, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (1/12/2011 UTC) at Germersheim, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I am going to post the book to GronnLivsstil after tomorrow`s work.

Happy journey to Norway and happy reading!

Journal Entry 9 by GronnLivsstil at Bryne, Rogaland fylke Norway on Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Recieved the book today. I'll just have to finish reading "The Haunting of Hill House" before I start reading this one.

Journal Entry 10 by GronnLivsstil at Bryne, Rogaland fylke Norway on Friday, March 11, 2011
I'm really sorry for the delay. I've finally finished the book, which was totally awesome and interesting to say it the least. I liked it so much that I recently ordered a copy from Amazon, so I can read it again once I get the chance.

I'll mail it as soon as I get the address to babydoll857.

Journal Entry 11 by GronnLivsstil at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Monday, March 14, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (3/14/2011 UTC) at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

It's now sent and it's on the way to UK.

Journal Entry 12 by babydoll857 at Isleworth, Middlesex United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thanks for sending this on. I look forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 13 by babydoll857 at Isleworth, Middlesex United Kingdom on Sunday, May 29, 2011
Although I admired it I found this book quite difficult to read for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the style is not my favourite: lots of different people's stories told in bits and pieces, and secondly, I found the subject matter extremely depressing. Everyone with money is out for themselves at the expense of the poor, the country's government is extremely corrupt (interesting reading in light of recent events in Egypt) and the poor, intelligent, frustrated son of the building's doorkeeper becoming a useful pawn of gihad was upsetting stuff not to mention extremely cynical and unfortunately true. I felt it was a brave book to write, given the political climate in Egypt and I am always thankful for brave authors, but whether due to the translation or not I felt that the actual writing style was quite clunky and didn't flow very well. The Yacoubian Building reminded me in its slightly lighthearted take on horrific events of 'Oliver Twist' in which Dickens depicts the misery and hopelessness of the poor in Victorian London in the same way. Whoever designed the book jacket obviously only read the first few pages and chose to represent the light-hearted tone of the book - it almost looks like a chick lit cover! I thought it was going to be a lot lighter reading than it was so I was unprepared for the harshness of the subject matter.

Thanks for sharing - I will now pass it on to the next person waiting.

Journal Entry 14 by Lydiasbooks at Tottenham, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Sadly I couldnt get into this. Not my sort of book at all. I read some but couldn't get through it. Will pass it on to next reader soon.

Released 8 yrs ago (9/23/2011 UTC) at -- Per Post geschickt / Persönlich weitergegeben --, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Mailed on or before Friday. Sorry, I ought to note when I release books. Hope next person in the ray enjoys it.

Journal Entry 16 by sintra at Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Monday, October 03, 2011
The book is in Bonn now and will be read once I finish my current read. Thanks a lot! :-)

Journal Entry 17 by sintra at Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Friday, November 04, 2011
I thought the book was entertaining and interesting regarding the characters and the various plots but I wasn't really overwhelmed by the style. Part of that might be due to the translation but some of the episodes also remained a bit too superficial for my taste (for example the jihad plot).

Thanks for sharing this book! It will be on its way again soon (Edit: Uuloppi's already read the book so I've asked for frutz's address).

This book is part of the 666 for 2011 Reading Challenge. It's my 5th book for Africa since the author is from Egypt where the book is set, too.

Journal Entry 18 by wingfrutzwing at Mersch / Miersch, Kanton Mersch Luxembourg on Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thank you sintra for sending this to me. I look forward to reading it as soon as I finish my current read.

Journal Entry 19 by wingfrutzwing at Mersch / Miersch, Kanton Mersch Luxembourg on Sunday, January 08, 2012
I liked this one, even if took me some time to get into it. Interesting stories about the Egyptian society and its corruption, interminglement between religion and politics, the position of women in society etc...
I'm still waiting for lizzy-stardust's address to send this one, just resend a message.

Journal Entry 20 by wingfrutzwing at A non-bookcrosser, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom on Sunday, January 15, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (1/14/2012 UTC) at A non-bookcrosser, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Send to Lizzy-stardust, sorry for the delay.
Happy reading

Journal Entry 21 by Lizzy-stardust at Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 18, 2012
received in the post yesterday. Thank goodness it got here before I leave the country. Will read it after I finish my current read and mail it on to the next in line. Thanks!

Journal Entry 22 by Lizzy-stardust at Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Starting this book tonight.

Journal Entry 23 by Lizzy-stardust at Salford, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Friday, January 27, 2012
Unfortunately, I tried really hard to get into this book and just cound't. Will be seinding on to the next in line as soon as I get an address to forward it to.

Journal Entry 24 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Saturday, February 04, 2012
The book is safe at home. Thanks Lizzy-Stardust.

Journal Entry 25 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Sunday, February 12, 2012
I liked the book. Sadly I think is real life that we are contemplating.

Journal Entry 26 by wingIcilawing at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France on Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Released 7 yrs ago (3/8/2012 UTC) at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

On its way to J4shaw
in Australia.

Journal Entry 27 by wingJ4shawwing at Darwin, Northern Territory Australia on Tuesday, March 27, 2012
This Bookring arrived with me today.
It may be a few weeks before I get to it as work has just gone crazy and I am half way through another book currently.
Looking forward to reading it though!

update added 5 Jul 2012 - I enjoyed this book, but seemed a little skittish and it lost me in places.

Journal Entry 28 by wingSherlockfanwing at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Arrived yesterday wrapped in paper printed with the Australia Flag. Great idea but perhaps a little flimsy for the rigours of either country's post office workers fingers. No matter - the inside was quite intact.
Looking forward to reading this - loved the picture on the cover; it is very thought provoking.

Journal Entry 29 by wingSherlockfanwing at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I've very mixed feelings about this book. It covered a topic about which I know little except for popular possible misconceptions about Muslim life. All those virgins awaiting in the afterlife for terrorists who are induced to sacrifice their lives killing how many other people on the way with promises of illusory rewards awaiting them offends me. If this comment bothers another reading bookcrosser I am sorry but despite my desire to learn and understand Muslim aims in a positive light that didn't work for me.
One incredible violent and brutal episode killed my desire to read any further so I gave up. Maybe life is like that in Egypt but it doesn't have to be.

I've sent a second message to moonblue in hopes that she is not on holiday and can reply before I leave in five days for seven weeks away.

Journal Entry 30 by wingSherlockfanwing at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Sunday, July 15, 2012

Released 7 yrs ago (7/15/2012 UTC) at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Posting this book to reetpetite in absence of a response from moonblue. Didn't want it to lie fallow for 7 weeks while we are away. I hope eventually it will be sorted. I've put a note into the packet with the book so reetpetite knows all about it.

Journal Entry 31 by wingReetPetitewing at Beeston, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thanks Sherlockfan

Journal Entry 32 by wingReetPetitewing at Beeston, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Thursday, August 02, 2012
The problem with these kinds of books is that you get involved with one person's story and then it moves to someone else & by the time you get back to them you've forgotten what happened. I had a problem with the unfamiliar names but the guides were useful. I agree with one reviewer who said that the cover made it seem a lighter read (like McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street), but there was violence & death. Realistic.
Thanks for the ray goldenwhattle.
I've got RonOren's address so will send it soon.

Journal Entry 33 by RonOren at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Thursday, August 09, 2012
Just arrived. Thanks for sending it through, ReetPetite (and thanks for the postcard, too - must try to make my way to Notts once). I'm currently finishing off another ring, so can't quite get stuck into this one; but I hope to start on it over the weekend or soon after.

Journal Entry 34 by RonOren at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Monday, August 20, 2012
I really enjoyed this book! It's very well written, with an impressive translation - it never felt like a translation at all.

Two things struck me about this book: first of all, it starts very easy-going, with the lives of the different characters just ambling along. But then things start getting darker, as Taha turns to extremism, Zaki gets turfed out of his house etc. Yet somehow the book manages to feel the same: we're still reading about lives ambling along; it's just that some lives are less pretty now. Somehow, this made the stories even more poignant...

The other remarkable thing - as the translator points out, although the book is set in the time of the first Iraq war, it isn't dated really and should still describe Egypt at any other time. Of course, he could never know what would have happened to Egypt during the Arab Spring.
And yet, despite massive changes in Egypt over the last year or so, the book still feels undated. Admittedly, I've never been to Egypt, so am basing this on conjecture mostly (and a little information gleaned from news reports); but still, I'm pretty convinved that Al-Aswany managed to capture the true spirit of Egypt - no matter what the political systems, exactly.

All in all, a very good book and one that I am very glad I got to read. Thanks for sharing it goldenwattle! I'll certainly be on the look-out for more books by Al-Aswany. I will send this book to lunatum soon.

Journal Entry 35 by RonOren at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Monday, April 29, 2013
After a very long delay while I got myself into gear, I finally managed to find someone to give this book to. It's now making its way to Fluffy-Owl as an RABCK. I hope you'll appreciate it as much as I did!

Journal Entry 36 by Fluffy-Owl at Chichester, West Sussex United Kingdom on Thursday, May 02, 2013
Received today as a RABCK, thank you for sending! I've been struggling to find books recently that keep my attention, so hopefully this one will change that!

Journal Entry 37 by Fluffy-Owl at Chichester, West Sussex United Kingdom on Sunday, June 30, 2013
Have to say, I didn't enjoy this very much. I found the characters all a bit disjointed and the book as a whole was quite 'jerky'. I am glad I've had the opportunity to read it though, and will find a new home for it soon.

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