Saturday, February 17, 2007


A follow-up to a best selling novel could get repetitive. Chicago by Alaa al Aswani author of the best selling novel Yaqobian Building is no exception. Yaqobian Building was noted for breaking taboos in the Arab and Muslim world; Chicago is more of the same.

This new novel takes place in Chicago among Egyptian PhD students. Despite the different setting from the first novel it ties closely to home. Some of the issues were already reflected in the previous novel such as the corruption and oppression of the political system. Other issues are new such as 9/11 and the resulting Islamophobia in the US. On the social side there were plenty of breaking taboos as well, just like the first novel which got into homosexuality, but different taboos such as inter racial and cross faith relationships among others. However I felt the author overemphasized breaking taboos, as if he had a check list of them to cover.

The dimension I enjoyed the most was the struggle between eastern and western values. The author paints a vivid picture of that struggle. One character questions her strict Islamic values after falling in love. Overall Chicago is definitely a page turner that flows very well and is full of surprises.


Vincent said...

Hi, Its my first time around, I read the book, I was in Egypt when the book was released. I read it, it was a good book, I dont know whats wrong when he was talking the gulf. I dont know maybe he had some bad experience although some of what he said is true.

great book. I got mine January20th.

Closet Diva said...

Thats great! I'm looking for a good book to read.

Did you read it in Arabic or English?

Bu Ziyad said...

Vincent: I think the book is critical of all Arab governments not just the Gulf.

Closet diva: It's a great read! I read it in Arabic. I don't think its translated in English yet. It's always best to read a book in its original language if you can cause as they say something always gets lost in the translation. Good luck finding it!

Anonymous said...

I loved Yacoubian's building - an amazing book. Will check this one out.