The New York Times has a mixed review of Alaa Al Aswany’s new book. The reviewer doesn’t like it quite as much as the The Yacoubian Building. The book, which takes place in the US, does sound a little off and not as interesting as The Yacoubian Building.
Al Aswany writes about his Egyptian characters with charm, gentle humor and genuine conviction. It’s his depiction of Americans in their natural habitat that baffles. A beautiful young black woman is fired from her job at a shopping mall, supposedly because of her race; unable to find work, she succumbs to the indignity of posing as an “adult lingerie” model — for $1,000 an hour. A middle-aged woman, shunned by her husband, ventures into a sex shop to buy a vibrator and is treated to a lecture on the G spot and its role in female emancipation (“A woman is no longer a tool for man’s pleasure or his physical subordinate”), complete with bibliographic citations (Gräfenburg, Perry and Whipple).