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Inside the walls of the Automobile Club of Egypt two very different worlds collide - Cairo's European elite and the Egyptian staff who wait on them. The servants, a squabbling, humorous and deeply human group, live in a perpetual state of fear under the tyrannical rule of Alku. When Abd el-Aziz Gaafar becomes the target of Alku's cruelty and his pride gets the better of him, a devastating act sends ripples through his family. Soon, the Gaafars are drawn into the turbulent politics of the club - both public and private - and servants and masters are subsumed by Egypt's social upheaval. Egyptians both inside and outside the Automobile Club will all face a stark choice: to live safely without dignity, or to fight for their rights and risk everything.
Alaa Al Aswany's first novel The Yacoubian Building was longlisted for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006 and has sold over a million copies worldwide. He is also the author of Chicago and the short story collection, Friendly Fire. His work has been translated into 29 languages and published in over 100 countries. Al Aswany was named by The Times as one of the best 50 authors to have been translated into English in the last 50 years. He speaks Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.