1. The Yacoubian Building
A book which has been causing considerable chatter in Cairo of late is The Yacoubian Building written by Alaa Al-Aswany. It is only causing a fuss now because an excellent movie has been made that faithfully reproduces the contents of the book. First published in 2002 - it was translated into English in 2004 - the book is a portrait of modern Egypt. Using the lives of the residents of the Yacoubian Building as the vehicle, the author weaves a tale incorporating Islamic extremism, vote-rigging, corruption, police brutality, secret second marriages and homosexuality. Mostafa Bakri, an MP and editor-in-chief of El-Osbou newspaper, raised objections to certain scenes especially those concerning the homosexual character, who in the book is the editor of a newspaper, and it was suggested to the parliamentary committee concerning culture, media and tourism that they consider censoring the film. Fortunately the People’s Assembly did not, and after much discussion the film continues to take Cairo by storm - unedited.
Maybe no longer quite so 'soignee', Talaat Harb square nonetheless ages gracefully.