More Al Aswany

A profile I did of Alaa Al Aswany just ran in The National. To be honest, when I was asked to do this, my first reaction wasn't enthusiastic--Al Aswany's been covered so much already, arguably at the expense of other Egyptian writers whose work deserves attention. But as it turns out I enjoyed tagging around with Al Aswany to various events (he's a hard fellow not to like), and by interviewing others--editors, publishers--I think I was able to put his success in context, and to touch on some of the domestic and international dynamics that have played a part in it.

I've actually been planning a lengthy "Yacoubian Effect" post, about the impact the book's success has had on the literary and cultural scene here, and the way Al Aswany and his work has been covered and used in the West, but I'm going on vacation in 2 days and won't be back till August 5th, so it'll have to wait till then. 

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.