Yacoubian Building, The

by Aswany, A. Al

The Yacoubian Building holds all that Egypt was and has become over the 75 years since the actual building was built on one of downtown Cairo’s main boulevards. From the pious son of the building’s doorkeeper and the raucous, impoverished squatters on its roof, via the tattered aristocrat and the gay intellectual in its apartments, to the ruthless businessman whose stores occupy its ground floor, each sharply etched character embodies a facet of modern Egypt. The novel, 4th bestseller in 2006 in the French edition, and now a highly successful film, caused an unprecedented stir when first published in 2002 and has remained the world’s best selling novel in the Arabic language since.