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Friendly Fire: Stories by Alaa Al Aswany
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Friendly Fire: Stories

by Alaa Al Aswany

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Having read and enjoyed Alla Al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building I did not hesitate when I saw this title. The novella He Who Drew Close and Saw, which occupies just over half the book, is an account narrated by Isam, a young Egyptian who clearly has a very low opinion of his countrymen. He briefly takes us through his childhood and to his working career, and along the way describes his relationships with his family, work colleagues and friends. Initially one is inclined to have less than positive thoughts about Isam, for he appears arrogant and selfish, yet there is something about him that wins the reader to his side; it is not until the neat twist at the end that we realise what that strange allure is.

The remainder of the book comprises nine short stories, all of which are centred on Egypt. Several revolve around children and the typical problems of growing up, including a bullying schoolteacher, the victimisation of an overweight boy, the bright new boy who everyone wants to befriend, and the triumph against adversity. Other stories tell of the trials of a bright young medical student who despite his brilliance seems unable to win approval, a political activist who has a vision, and an absentee son trying to justify his failure to support his ageing mother. What unites all these stories is their commentary on human nature, and often the Egyptian way of life. Al Aswany's penetrating perception and frank depiction of Egyptian culture is always tinged with wry humour and peopled with appealing characters. But whatever the story, and however short or even unresolved, one always is left with a thought provoking point to ponder. ( )
  presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
Best selling Arabic novelist. The Yacoubian Building
  Egaro | Aug 12, 2010 |
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Book description
Friendly Fire is a novella and collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the bestselling The Yacoubian Building. As in that novel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and reveals with skill and detachment the hyprocisy, violence and abuse of power characteristic of a world in moral crisis. Here, though, the focus has shifted from the broad historical canvas to the minute stitches of pain that hold together an individual, a family, a school classroom, or the relationship between a man and a woman. In Friendly Fire, readers will find again the vivid, passionate characters of today's Cairo, clamouring to be heard.

Friendly Fire also features an introduction by Alaa Al Aswany giving the history of the novella, 'The Isam Abd el-Ati Papers', which was banned in Egypt for a decade.
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'Friendly Fire' is a novella and collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, author of 'The Yacoubian Building'. As in that novel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and reveals with skill and detachment the hypocrisy, violence and abuse of power characteristic of a world in moral crisis.… (more)

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