By Alaa Al Aswany
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061452567, 352pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
List Price: $25.95*
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The author of the highly acclaimed The Yacoubian Building returns with a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition set in Chicago, with a cast of American and Arab characters achingly human in their desires and needs.
Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in this extraordinary and eagerly anticipated new novel from Alaa Al Aswany. Among the players are a sixties-style anti-establishment professor whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled PhD candidate whose belief in the principles of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an emigre whose fervent desire to embrace his American identity is tested when he is faced with the issue of his daughter's "honor"; an Egyptian informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America to finance his literary aspirations but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for.
Populated by a cast of intriguing, true-to-life characters, Chicago offers an illuminating portrait of America a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, licentiousness and tender love, small dramas and big dreams, coexist. Beautifully rendered, Chicago is a powerfully engrossing novel of culture and individuality from one of the most original voices in contemporary world literature.
“Aswany sensitively probes the nature of courage and patriotism. . . . [T]he story moves in surprising directions, and the ambiguity of life is well reflected in an unabashedly untidy conclusion.
-The New Yorker
“...Al Aswany’s knack for making the personal political.”
-New York magazine
“Egyptian author Al Aswany weaves a vivid tapestry of clashing cultures in post 9/11 Chicago. . . . The characters are beautifully realized [and] each of the story lines is individually compelling.”
“Al Aswany writes about his Egyptian characters with charm, gentle humor, and genuine conviction.”
-New York Times Book Review
“While the book explores political points, it’s ultimately a pluralist drama, complete with cliffhangers.”
-Washington Post Express