The Yacoubian Building (Paperback)

Alaa Al Aswany


An international bestseller, 'The Yacoubian Building' is a mesmerising and controversial novel that is at once an impasssioned celebration and a ruthless dissection of a society dominated by bribery and corruption. The Yacoubian Building -- once grand, but now dilapidated -- stands on one of Cairo's main boulevards. Taha, the doorman's son, has aspirations beyond the slum in the skies, and dreams of one day becoming a policeman. He studies hard, and passes all the exams, but when he is rejected because his family is neither rich nor influential, the bitterness sets in. His girlfriend, Busayna, finds herself unable to earn a living without also providing sexual services for the men who hire her. When Taha seeks solace in a student Islamic organisation, the pressure mounts, and he is drawn to actions with devastating consequences. 'The Yacoubian Building' follows Taha's trajectory from innocence to tragedy. The people whose lives orbit his -- the inhabitants of the building -- are also facing their own difficult choices. From those living in squalid and cramped conditions on the rooftops, to the homosexual editor of Le Caire newspaper and a womanising aristocrat, all of the contradictions in Egyptian society are here. Religious feelings live side by side with promiscuity; bribery and exploitation alternate with moments of joy and elation; modernity clashes with the vision of a more ancient society. Alaa Al Aswany's mesmerising novel caused an unprecedented stir when it was published in Egypt. It is at once an impassioned celebration and a ruthless dissection of a society dominated by bribery and corruption.

Product Details

  • Product code: AABMY
  • ISBN: 9780007243624
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 19.7cm x 12.9cm
  • Pages: 256
  • Publish date: Mon Sep 03 00:00:00 BST 2007

Customer Ratings


Customer Reviews

Rate & Review
"Boring" -

This book may well give amazing insights into modern Egyptian society and culture (as claimed by the reviews) - but I am sorry to say that I simply found it boring. It provides a series of portraits of individuals who are in some way connected with the eponymous Yacoubian Building. As the text flits from one character to another without apparent link I found the list of characters that is printed at the front of the book very helpful in reminding me who we were reading about. In reading the book I found it disjointed. There is very little interaction between the characters, and no story line to keep the reader's attention. Speaking personally I did not find myself achieving a sense of understanding or empathy with any of the characters, nor did I find them particularly interesting. If you have some knowledge of Egyptian culture and society and want to read more about it then you may find this book interesting; otherwise, give it a miss.

Helen Margaret Ashford , Fri Aug 27 14:43:45 BST 2010

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