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Chicago: A Novel

Chicago: A Novel
Author: Alaa Al Aswany
ISBN 13: 9780061452581
ISBN 10: 61452580
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 2009-09-29
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
List Price: $14.99

Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in the extraordinary second novel from the highly acclaimed author of The Yacoubian Building. This is a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition, pulsating and alive with a rich and unforgettable cast of American and Arab characters who are achingly human in their desires and needs. Beautifully rendered, this is an illuminating portrait of America, a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, small dramas and big dreams coexist. Chicago is a powerfully engrossing novel of culture and individuality from one of the most original voices in contemporary world literature.

Publishers Weekly

Egyptian author al Aswany (The Yacoubian Building) weaves a vivid tapestry of clashing cultures in post-9/11 Chicago. Dr. Ra'fat Thabit, an Egyptian-American professor at the University of Illinois Medical School, has burrowed deep into American culture, but finds his identity threatened after his rebellious daughter falls under the sway of a shady boyfriend. Ra'fat's colleague, Dr. Muhammad Shamay, retreats from his American wife into extended reveries of his life in Cairo in the 1970s when he was young and in love with a revolutionary. His histology student, Nagi Abd al-Samad, really wants to be a poet. Nagi begins a relationship with an American girl named Wendy (who just so happens to be Jewish). Meanwhile, Shymaa Muhammadi, a medical student who wears a veil, finds her traditional values under siege when Tariq Haseeb, another Egyptian med student, begins seducing her with dogged persistence. The characters are beautifully realized-Ra'fat's family trouble is especially well done-and though their cumulative effect is muted, each of the story lines is individually compelling. (Oct.)

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