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Chicago

by Alaa Al Aswany
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • Publishing date: 01/10/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780061452581
  • ISBN: 0061452580

Synopsis

Egyptian and American lives collide on a college campus in post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound in the extraordinary second novel from the highly acclaimed author of The Yacoubian Building. This is a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition, pulsating and alive with a rich and unforgettable cast of American and Arab characters who are achingly human in their desires and needs. Beautifully rendered, this is an illuminating portrait of America, a complex, often contradictory land in which triumph and failure, opportunity and oppression, small dramas and big dreams coexist. Chicago is a powerfully engrossing novel of culture and individuality from one of the most original voices in contemporary world literature.


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  • Not a great book....
    From Amazon

    I agree with the more neutral to negative reviewers, I was not a big fan of this book and felt it could have been better written and better edited.

  • Good book, wrong genre
    From Amazon

    Chicago presents an interesting riff on the immigrant experience. A quick read, it creates a living breathing universe of Egyptian histologists living in Chicago. Few of the characters are sympathetic, though all are human and believable. Expect a lot of unresolved family tragedy. Prepare yourself for depictions of torture and perfidy. I knew little about Egypt and was left with an impression of a fundamentally corrupt and dysfunctional country. I don't know how accurate this is. I personally found the sex a bit prurient but not offensive. The biggest flaw of the novel, I think, is that it really is a series of short stories woven together. I think Aswany's gift as a writer may be best suited to the short story rather than a novel.

  • Did Not Complete
    From Amazon

    I have had this book for months and for whatever reason have been unable to complete it. The average rating my be considered not fair, but, at a minimum I want to become engaged with the characters and that did not occur for me with Chicago. Angelia Menchan

  • Lots of sex, no plot -- what was this book about??
    From Amazon

    I was very disappointed by this book. The Egyptian men all had serious problems with women and the American man was a dredged up 60s radical stereotype. I was pretty appalled with all the graphic sexuality, especially since it seemed to have to no connection to the plot (not that there was one, but more on that later). I really stray away from books with graphic sexual content because they generally detract from the rest of the book, which was the case here. I would even go so far as to say that most of the male characters were misogynistic and that bothered me a great deal. I was also confused by the plight of the young woman who could not get a job (in Chicago of all places) because she was black. I have not lived in Chicago, but I cannot believe that this is the case (to the extreme degree it was portrayed in the book). Also, I agree with the previous review about the anti-semitism. I cannot imagine Jewish students in America taunting Arab students, but maybe I am being naive. However, I have never heard of such an instance. However, what bothered me most is that there was no plot. I wanted to read this book because I thought it would give me insight into Egyptian culture, but what I took from it was that Egyptian men have major issues with women and pretty stereotypical ideas about America. Maybe I was reaching too high and hoping for something along the lines of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" which was one of the best books I have read. I really wish I knew what this book was trying to be about, there are a lot of themes: sex, oppressive government, male/female relationships, but none of it tied together for me.

  • Tanks Faster Than You Can Say "Hieroglyphics"
    From Amazon

    This book starts off OK, but turns into a wretched mass of bad editing, poor writing, confused storytelling and stereotypes. There are only two likable characters out of dozens. I blame the editors as much as the author on this mess.

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