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Chicago: A Modern Arabic Novel

Sex, money, and politics are the driving forces of society in this new novel from bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany.

A medley of Egyptian and American lives collides on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center in a post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound. Among the players are an atheistic anti-establishment American professor of the sixties generation, whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled Ph.D. candidate whose conviction in the code of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an emigre who has fervently embraced his new American identity, but who cannot escape his Egyptian roots when faced with the issue of his daughter's 'honour'; an Egyptian State Security informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America with the sole aim of financing his literary aspirations, but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for.This tightly plotted page-turner is set far from the downtown Cairo of Al Aswany's "The Yacoubian Building", but is no less unflinching an examination of contemporary Egyptian lives.

Alaa al Aswany was born in 1957. He is a dentist by profession, and for many years practised in the Yacoubian Building, which was to form the setting for his bestselling novel of the same name. He has written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers on politics, literature and social issues and his second novel, ‘Chicago’, was published by Fourth Estate in 2008.

Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab

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