Fiction in Translation
English edition  
March  2009
248 pp.
Hardbound
12.5X20 cm
$22.95
LE100
ISBN 9789774161445
For sale only in the Middle East

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Friendly Fire

Tales of Today’s Egypt Alaa Al Aswany
Translated by Humphrey Davies

A novella and short stories by the author of the bestselling novel of Cairo life, The Yacoubian Building

A novel and sixteen short stories make up this latest offering by Egypt’s bestselling novelist as he reveals with skill and detachment the minute stitches of pain that hold together an individual, a family, a school classroom, or the relationship between a man and a woman. Can a man so alienated from his society that he regards all its members as no better than microbes wriggling under a microscope survive within it? Can cynical religiosity triumph over human decency? Can a man put the thought of a delicious dish of beans behind him long enough to mourn his father’s death? Alongside these wry questions, other, less mordant perspectives also have their place: an aging cabaret dancer bestows the blessing of a vanished world on her lover’s son; a crippled boy wins subjective victory from objective disaster. In Friendly Fire, readers will find again the vivid, passionate characters of today’s Egypt, clamoring to be heard.
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Alaa Al Aswany was born in 1957. A dentist by profession, Al Aswany is the author of the bestselling novel The Yacoubian Building (AUC Press, 2005) and Chicago (AUC Press, 2007). Humphrey Davies is the translator of The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany and Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury, for which he was awarded the Banipal Prize for Literary Translation.He was awarded the 2010 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Yalo by Elias Khoury.

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Humphrey Davies talks about the realities and challenges of translating from Arabic. Click here for the interview.

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“Al Aswany distils his personal and general frustrations with Egypt’s people and its politics into powerful, punchy tales that are both uncommonly observant and deftly constructed . . . His achievements in these stories is in making general complaints affecting, human and very personal”—The Times<br><br>

“The dispassionate descriptions of the compromises and hypocrisies of daily life in the Egyptian capital . . . leave the reader with a sense of a world beyond the story’s borders. Al Aswany continues to be a voice worth hearing from a country of which we know far too little.”—Sunday Times<br><br>

“These stories hum with the anger and frustration that Aswany has made his own”—Observer<br><br>

“Reaffirms Al Aswany’s determination to dissect Egyptian society and expose its failings for all to observe”—Irish Metro<br><br>

“Best-selling Egyptian novelist Al Aswany returns with a startling first collection, elegant yet pointedly sharp-tongued and sarcastic…. Al Aswany is an insightful student of the human condition whose trenchant characters evoke a weird hybrid of Albert Camus and Charles Bukowski; the strange landscape depicted is at once painful and playful, rich in meaning and understatement.”—9/1/09 Library Journal<br><br>

“This collection of short stories, and one novella, transcends the conditions in Egypt, touching the human condition. The situation in Egypt is the setting, and you will learn quite a bit about Egyptian society through these stories. Al-Aswany’s introduction is also informative as to the reality writers face. This book is timely in the wake of the major protests taking place in Egypt in early 2011.”—The Global Ministries

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