Friendly Fire, the first collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, acclaimed author of Chicago and The Yacoubian Building, deftly explores the lives o. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Friendly Fire by Alaa Al Aswany. Friendly Fire. Alaa al Aswany, Author, Humphrey Davies, Translator. Harper Perennial $ (p) ISBN

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Friendly Firethe first collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, acclaimed author of Chicago and The Yacoubian Buildingdeftly explores the lives of contemporary Egyptians. In his deft new collection, the ever-controversial Al Aswany The Yacoubian Building again delves into the various miseries of modern Egyptian life. In the long story The Isam Abd el-Ati Papers, the title character rants against Egypt and its citizens with irresistible venom. Isam’s hobbies include denouncing the stupid tribal loyalty of his compatriots, humiliating his defeated cartoon-drawing father, sleeping with his mother’s maid and infuriating his co-workers by blatantly sipping coffee during Ramadan.

But when Isam meets the enchanting German, Jutta, it appears that he may have found just the Western woman to ease his existential pain. In the powerful A Look into Nagi’s Face, Nagi, a half-French student, becomes a sadistic teacher’s favorite, upsetting the classroom’s balance of power.

Domestic violence in a bourgeois Egyptian household gets out of hand in When the Glass Shatters; Dearest Sister Makarim mocks the formalities and traditions that hinder real communication between the sexes in modern Muslim culture. Acerbic critique of Egyptian culture is what weaves these stories into a coherent collection. The author systematically unveils his country’s most revered institutions, from hospitals and schools to religion and marriage. 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.

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Alaa Al Aswany

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The Automobile Club of Egypt. From Publishers Weekly In his deft new collection, the ever-controversial Al Aswany The Yacoubian Building again delves into the various miseries of modern Egyptian life. Harper Perennial September 15, Language: Print frienely purchase must be sold by Amazon. Thousands of books are eligible, including current and former best sellers.

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Showing of 6 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. After reading The Yacoubian Building – which is the reflection of a decade that made a change in the world, the nineties,and especifically in Egypt- this book doesn’t match the expectations that I had.

However, it is a good friendpy to know the personality ans psychology of the Egyptians. You can’t go wrong aawani Aswany.

One of my all time fav authors. His stories are so realistic they bring me chills. It’s a good book with several short stories.

Not as good as Chicago or The Yacobian Building, but still good. This book was published in Arabic in and in English in It contained 16 short stories and a novella. The novella took up just under half of the book. I came to this after reading the author’s Yacoubian Buildingwhich impressed as a window into the lives and values of contemporary Egyptians in Cairo.

For me, Friendly Fire was a lesser work but contained some interesting things also. As with Yacoubian, the writer focused all around society in Cairo, finding dysfunction nearly everywhere.

Interview: Alaa Al Aswany | Books | The Guardian

Human potential was stifled continually by bureaucracy, corruption, envy and the struggle to survive. The need to cater to the whims of all-powerful superiors in the workplace led to humiliation. The lack of control over their lives turned children and adults into beasts. People sacrificed themselves to better the lives of family members, or prostituted themselves to foreigners for money. Behaving badly, some masked their behavior with florid phrases of religious piety.

Devotion to family members — especially mothers and children — offered some the strongest motivation to keep struggling. But mostly the problems conspired to keep people apart and drove sensitive souls to the edge. The contrast was strong between past hope — before — and present disappointment.

Unlike Yacoubian, there were few positives, no optimism and no way out. In some ways, the writing covered territory similar to that of VS Naipaul on Islam and on the Third World, and seemed to share much of that writer’s outlook. The “Leader” story was especially damning, with old, disillusioned politicos waiting for the ghost of a former leader to appear and lead them out of the dead end, while one dreamed of material reward and summering in Europe with his wife.

The dead man had advocated constitution and democracy, but maybe the leaders and masses of the present were unready. Another story offered glimpses of how the newly rich behaved, with a trophy wife from Europe, foreign-language education for the offspring, marble statues of Venus in the courtyard and Roman numerals carved into the door.

Too many of the other stories seemed underdeveloped, with weak or abrupt endings. Missing was writing from women’s points of view or a focus on the behavior of religious leaders — things that had been present in Yacoubian.

Friendly Fire – Alaa Al Aswany

The novella began well, with a narrator’s forceful denunciation of national traits, but lost momentum quickly as he descended into confused memories of a parent, student life and lost love, with little apparent sense of form — again unlike Yacoubian.


It ended in a mental hospital. Maybe this novella, the opening work, was intended partly as a summary of the themes touched on in many of the stories that followed. A work covering somewhat similar ground was Taxiby Khaled Alkhamissi, which recorded the frustrations of taxi drivers struggling to make a living in Cairo. A more modest creation, it at least offered some humor against all the darkness.

Friendly Fire

A contrast to Friendly Fire was View of a Distant Minaret and Other Stories by Alifa Rifaat, an older writer, who showed Egyptian women coping with their lives, finding quiet strength in themselves and their faith.

Alaa Al Aswany writes of contemporary Egypt, the Egypt he flre and interprets. He explains in his very thorough and worthy of note preface; that there is a usual similarity between the audiences of the first moving pictures who were terrified because they believed the qswani coming toward them was real and the people who believe the literature they read is real; that one should not interpret his writing as a hatred of Egypt.

He explains the history of the book, mainly his first story – ‘The Aswaji Abd el-Ati Papers’ and why it was not published at his first try. His page book, Friendly Fire consists of short stories, the first 92 pages long, the other 16 much shorter. He is a good writer, but one can see why the Egyptian authorities would not publish his writing; it expresses no virtue of the country or its’ people – one has to remind themselves of his admonishing in the preface that he loves his country and his literature possesses an independent existence from his thinking.

So, in summary be prepared for a book with stories that rail on the subject of human kind, not the worst of society but the everyday foibles and failings of the inhabitants of modern Egypt, but they could exist anywhere -the teasing of schoolmates, the difficulties and obstacles of achieving one’s life dreams.

Each story is a tale of woe and wretched luck. Each story leaves much of what will finally happen to your imagination, much as life is. This is not just about Egypt but the state of anger and frustration in humankind – well written but frustrating to me in that there seemed to be no optimism or closure. So read if you are interested a different style and a critically acclaimed contemporary Egyptian writer. There are some gems in this collection.

Check this out if you enjoyed his novels. See all 6 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

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