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Minorities in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel$
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Mary Youssef

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474415415

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415415.001.0001

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The Irrecuperable Heterogeneity of the Present in ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani’s The Yacoubian Building and Chicago

The Irrecuperable Heterogeneity of the Present in ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani’s The Yacoubian Building and Chicago

Chapter:
(p.98) 3 The Irrecuperable Heterogeneity of the Present in ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani’s The Yacoubian Building and Chicago
Source:
Minorities in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel
Author(s):

Mary Youssef

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415415.003.0004

Two novels by author ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani are jointly analyzed to illustrate a multi-dimensional mapping of difference and asymmetries of power in domestic and public spheres as well as across local and global settings, Cairo in Yacoubian and Chicago in Chicago, all during times of resurgent essentialist perceptions of the self and the other. This juxtaposition delineates ineradicable interdependence between global margins and centers and how al-Aswani’s aesthetic construction of fictional worlds is with an unrelenting commitment to reality, observable to readers who are familiar with the spatial and cultural particularities of Cairo and Chicago. The nonconformist treatment of sensitive themes like sex, alcohol consumption, women’s subordination, and homosexuality has stirred controversy within certain literary and cultural circles, if not disqualification of al-Aswani’s works from possessing aesthetic value, despite the works’ unprecedented popularity as best-selling novels. This chapter discusses this novelistic phenomenon while inviting new critical considerations of what defines adab.

Keywords:   ʿAlaʾ al-Aswani (Alaa al-Aswany), Best-selling Novels, Realism, Cairo, Chicago, Adab, Local and Global, Domestic and Public, Subordination, Homosexuality

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