The Yacoubian Building

“The Yacoubian Building” by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)


Readers loved this book! They warmed to the different characters who they described as vivid and well developed. They liked how each one evolved throughout the story as either their situation improved or deteriorated. They also liked the contrasts between the secular and religious lifestyles of the characters. Readers loved the setting of the building with its different categories of tenants: from the wealthy ones living or working in spacious apartments to the poor ones who lived in cramped conditions on the rooftop. They likened the building to a hub where the converging of all the different stories took place. Readers found some parts pretty harrowing and damning on human nature: everyone who was powerful was abusing their power, and everyone who was powerless was trying to find ways to bypass the strict and unjust rules of society in the most imaginative way they could. Readers were grateful that the book ended on a positive note and agreed that the English translation was excellent. Overall, it averaged a 9.25 out of 10.


The Yacoubian Building – once grand, but now dilapidated – stands on one of Cairo’s main boulevards. Taha, the doorman’s son, has aspirations beyond the slum in the skies, and dreams of one day becoming a policeman. He studies hard, and passes all the exams, but when he is rejected because his family is neither rich nor influential, the bitterness sets in… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 20 (Oct 2016 – Mar 2017)
“Life Begins on Friday” by Ioana Pârvulescu (Romania)
“In the Beginning Was the Sea” by Tomás González (Colombia)
“Island of a Thousand Mirrors” by Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka) * 
“By Night the Mountain Burns” by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea)
“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan (U.S.)

Extra book:
“The Yacoubian Building” by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt) 

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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