‘Aswany is a world writer, making Egyptian concerns into human ones and beautifully illuminating our always extraordinary and sometimes sad and baffling world.’
‘a testament to Aswany’s talents as a writer, as he transitions seamlessly from dry intellectual commentary to vicious political satire and elegant social metaphors rendered through fictional representation’
Four years before the Egyptian revolution in January 2011 Alaa Al Aswany, author of the bestselling novel The Yacoubian Building, had been a critic of the Mubarak regime. When the revolution broke out he was among the first in Tahrir Square calling for democratic reform and demanding that Hosni Mubarak stand down. Since then he has continued, through his popular weekly column for the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, to propund the ideals of the January 2011 revolution, embodied by the young protestors who risked everything to occupy Tahrir by his side.
In his 150 articles for this newspaper over the ensuing three years – collected and translated here for the first time – Al Aswany confronts the crucial issues of the day head-on, as an increasingly stratified and divided country has sought to agree a constitution and elect a democratic government. His journalism has given him an opportunity to expose the instances of corruption, brutality, police negligence and judicial and religious interference that have plagued the everyday lives of the Egyptian people. His columns provide a comprehensive chronicle of the post-revolutionary years of turmoil and present a portrait of a country and people in flux.
Divided into three parts – the chaotic aftermath of the revolution; Mohamed Morsi’s election, tenure as President and overthrow; as well as the election of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Democracy is the Answer is a definitive reader on Egypt’s years of upheaval by one of the Middle East’s foremost political voices.
Alaa Al Aswany originally trained as a dentist, and still has his own dental practice in Cairo. He worked for many years in The Yacoubian Building in Cairo, which have its name to his debut novel. The Yacoubian Building was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006, has sold over one million copies worldwide, and was the bestselling novel in the Arab world for over five years. Al Aswany is also the author of Chicago (named by Newsday as the best translated novel of 2006) and Friendly Fire. His work has been translated in over 30 languages and published in over 100 countries. He speaks Arabic, English, French and Spanish. He has received many awards internationally, including the Bashrahil Award for the Arabic novel, the Kafavis Award from Greece, and the Grinzane Cavour Award from Italy. He was recently named by The Times as one of the best 50 authors to have been translated into English in the last 50 years.