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The new book from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the international bestseller 'The Yacoubian Building' and 'Chicago'. 'Friendly Fire' is a vella and collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the bestselling 'The Yacoubian Building'. As in that vel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and, with skill and detachment, reveals the hypocrisy, 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 and the relationship between a man and a woman. Can a man so alienated from his society that he regards all its members as better than microbes wriggling under a microscope survive within it? Can cynical religiosity triumph over human decency? Can a man put the thought of a delicious dish of beans behind him long eugh to mourn his father's death? Alongside these wry questions, other, less mordant perspectives also have their place: an ageing cabaret dancer bestows the blessing of a vanished world on her lover's son; a crippled boy wins subjective victory from objective disaster. 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 vella, 'The Isam Abd el-Ati Papers', which was banned in Egypt for a decade.
Alaa al Aswany was born in 1957. He is a dentist by profession, and for many years practised in the Yacoubian Building, which was to form the setting for his bestselling novel of the same name. He has written prolifically for Egyptian newspapers on politics, literature and social issues and his second novel, 'Chicago', was published by Fourth Estate in 2008.