The Yacoubian Building

I look out my window and I see people huddled inside a bar, with others looking through its window. There are maybe 15 minutes left in the match, and Real Madrid is losing at home 0-1 to Mallorca. If they don’t score two goals, they lose the lead and hand the title over to Barcelona.

But instead of getting involved (I am weak hearted), I have decided to finish The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but I must admit that if you are truly interested in modern Egypt, then you really must read the larger Cairo Triology by the great, late Naguib Mahfouz (or even Midaq Alley). Al Aswany’s story is really nothing more than putting Mahfouz’s triology into the present.

I am sure that in the West, people love to see how Al Aswany reveals the hypocracy behind conservative Egyptian society to light. But if you really think about it, there really is nothing that different from what happens in any other country around the world. In particular, I liked a scene where a young Egyptian Islamist is tortured by police. He reflects that even the Islamists’ greatest enemy, the Israelis or the Americans, would have treated him better in prison. That is one of the real tragedies of the war in Iraq — Americans have not in fact proven that they treat prisoners in a more ethical way.

My neigbhors scream for joy! Real Madrid just tied the match with 15 minutes left.

Finally, I am waiting to get my hands of the Egyptian movie that was recently made about the book. So far I believe it hasn’t yet come out with English subtitles.

Everyone is now singing ¡Hala Madrid! Madrid just scored with about 8 minutes left to take the lead.

And so it looks like Real Madrid has won, as my neighbors have just screamed again for joy as Real Madrid scores a third goal.

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Filed under Digressions, Literature, Living la vida española

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