Alaa Al Aswany - The Yacoubian Building
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswany
Published in Arabic in 2002, translated into English in 2004, and made into a film in 2006, the story is set in 1990 at about the time of the first Gulf War.
The locale of the novel is downtown Cairo and the apartment building of the title (which actually exists) serves as both a metaphor for contemporary Egypt and a location in which most of the book’s characters either live or work and in which much of the novel's action takes place. The stories of each of the primary characters are often intertwined, at times colliding or converging with one another, against a background of a nation struggling under a corrupt and undemocratic political system dominated by a single party and whose most talented members either abandon the country for promising careers abroad or see extremist Islam as the only way out of the situation.