This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption sexual repression religious extremism and modern hopes of Egypt todayAll manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building a once elegant temple of Art Deco splendor 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 desiresThese 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

10 thoughts on “عمارة يعقوبيان

  1. says:

    Dispiriting I nearly tossed this into the nearest patch of long grass as I got so thoroughly sick of the descriptions of boobs and buttocks so impatient with the fact that ALL the women fell into only two categories young and therefore luscious and desirable or old and therefore no longer desirable Worst of all is old and skinny and yes it says a LOT about me that I'm particularly sensitive to this because old and skinny means you turn into a screeching termagant Somebody better warn my husband what do you mean too late? HOW DARE YOU I'LL HAVE YOUR GUTS FOR GARTERS Old and chunky on the other hand means you're at least allowed to be motherly sorry grandmotherly Even towards men who are older than you So that puts me on a strict regime of chocolate ice cream cream cake and biscuits and NO SPORT There is an awful lot of sex in this book Or should that be a lot of awful sex? Well yes Their intercourse on the first night was simple and spontaneous as though she had been his wife for years The rose opened to the touch of his fingers and he watered it than once till it was quenched Cringe Maybe that sounds better in the original But it's not just the ho hum description it's that sex is a marketable commodity That rose quotation describes 'simple and spontaneous' congruence between Taha and the wife chosen for him by the Islamist brotherhood It is unique in the whole novel that it does not involve the obvious blandishments of money or security or the slightly subtle pretence of a considerate sensual dexterity that fools the young luscious desirable victim into believing that the old lecher actually cares for her on any other level than pleasuring her and proving his amazing ability to do soBut then since I'm an old skinny harridan with a couple of brain cells to rub together I began to think about WHY this made me so angry And it was the story of Suad who desperately and fruitlessly tries to take control of her own body who hopes to gain some dignity and human value by producing a child and is so shockingly frustrated in her aim that pointed up to me that in a society where women have no economic or political influence the only thing that's left to them is the power to bestow sexual favours And the portrayal of homosexuality seems cliched in its sordidness but then how can it be anything else in a society that makes something so natural illegal? So this is what al Aswany does He uses these rather one dimensional figures to present what was wrong with Egyptian society under Mubarak And it reads a lot like trashy soap opera the rather simplistic causality between poverty despotic rule and abuse on one side and religious radicalisation on the other Aesthetically not a delight But a drastic situation requires drastic means And if this is your view of the Egyptian people Our Lord created the Egyptians to accept government authority No Egyptian can go against his government Some peoples are excitable and rebellious by nature but the Egyptian keeps his head down his whole life long so he can eat It says so in the history books The Egyptians are the easiest people in the world to rule The moment you take power they submit to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with themthankfully proved wrong by the events of the Arab Spring then it's drastic means that you need And you know what's really dispiriting? The nagging suspicion that Western readers will mistake a version of what's wrong with the system for a proof of what's wrong with the people