Alaa al-Aswany Interview on Here on Earth

Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders interviewed Alaa al-Aswany, also known as the Sinbad of literature, yesterday.

There aren’t a lot of famous writers who are also dentists. Alaa al Aswany is Egypt’s most famous living writer who happens to also work as a dentist by day in Cairo. He says being a dentist enables his writing: his patients open up to him, confess their troubles and reveal their inner lives. Al Aswany’s first novel, The Yacoubian Building, published in 2002, overnight became the bestselling novel in the Arab world, and was subsequently made into Egypt’s highest grossing film ever.

The only Arab-language novel to have created greater buzz and sell more copies is his second novel, Chicago, which has just been published in the US. Set on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center where he himself trained as a dentist, Chicago explores the interweaving lives of a group of Egyptian students and professors trying to find their bearings in post 9/11 America.


Aswany’s recent book Chicago follows Egyptian immigrants and deals with contentious issues like homosexuality and government corruption. Click here for a recent profile on him in The New York Times for an in-depth discussion of his work and the next generation of political activism in Egypt. They’re attracting attention online for using new media to organize massive protests on Facebook. Egypt’s “enough” a.k.a. “Kifaya” movement is open for discussion on next radio show, Young Muslims and New Media.

Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders produces the Inside Islam Radio Series. Related shows aired apart form the official radio series are featured on online and in the archives.

One thought on “Alaa al-Aswany Interview on Here on Earth

  1. I have got the chance to read Aswany’s book and it really tells so much about the actual ground realities on issues based on homosexuality and increasing corruption rate.