A dose of 7aki … hmmmm … Fadi: Chicago

** if you intened to read the book and you hate spoliers don’t continue reading** 

I don’t know what the big deal about the Arabic book Chicago by Alaa Al Aswani is, I thought it was full of cliches (i.e. A trite or overused expression or idea.)

Some sex some politics and a sprinkle of religion and voila , you have Chicago.

The books main characters:

  • The Hijabi conservative Egyptian woman who is religious falls for sin and has sex with a man and ends up being pregnant and aborts the baby. Now maybe this is the most believable part of the story.
  • The Arab guy who as soon as he lands in Chicago calls a call girl to have sex with her and she turns out to be an older woman , he hits her and then he feels sorry for her and gives her money for no sex.
  • The government spy who heads the students and has no talent and got to where he got by Wasta, marries a nice girl, thinks she enjoys rape and takes her fathers money
  • The Egyptian man who rejects his Arab identity completely, marries an American and his daughter ends up being a drug addict and she OD’s and dies.
  • A black woman who can’t find employment because of racism ends up doing underwear adds for $1000 an hour, now that is just not gonna happen. They take pictures of her boobs and put them on TV. In the states that never happens and will never happen, you can’t even say the word “shit” on American TV let alone have an add with boobs in it. I would have believed it more if she turned into a porn star. So her boyfriend leaves her because she slept with the boss to get ahead.
  • An Egyptian government interrogator who has sex with the political prisoners wives for favors, rapes the wives and mothers in front of them so they can confess
  • The government opposition guy who gets caught by the FBI who tell him, we will rape you in prison like he Egyptian police do
  • A guy who couldn’t face his fears by saying something to Mubarak in opposition commits suicide.

And the list goes on. Cliche after cliche after cliche.

 Maybe it’s a big deal because it’s an Arabic book dealing with these subjects but as an avid reader who reads amazing books this does not even register on the amazing scale.

I usually rate the book by what it added to me, did it make me think? Did it make me question certain things? Did it add anything to my life? Did it make a point?

The answer for ME for all these questions was No.

Maybe I don’t get it.

The only saving grace for this book is the fact that it is entertaining.

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17 Responses

  1. Every time I Read Alaa Al Aswani, I feel like I’m shoving dirt inside my mouth!!

    It’s ok if these issues are on the side of the main story, but making them the main story ….!

    Lets see how the movie is going to look like 🙂

  2. sounds like a load of crap if you ask me 🙂

    this blog’s very cute .. 🙂 little 7aki sounds like she’s a sweetheart ..

  3. Oh really?
    you keep writing all those interesting posts, then you ask us not to read if we don’t like spoilers? well, You’ve spoiled it alright. Besides, the book sounds like musalsal el sahrah. AKA a waste of time.

  4. I don’t know Alaa Al aswani, but sometimes we like a book not because it add something to us, but for example when we know that the book is good and can be good for others, not just for us, or when you feel that the author really worked hard and was trying to say something important, etc.
    anyway thanks for the book review 🙂

  5. yikes 7aki…
    ok at first because of the name i thought it would be written in english, but now that i checked the link i think ur assumption was on the money, maybe he has good empathy and can make the characters come to life with emotion … eh ?

  6. Thanks for the excellent review 7aki..I did like The Ya3koobian building, but I think the case being how you described it, is this second book is just an attempt to build on the success of the first one..at least now I know I won’t be wasting my time reading it!

  7. I think he’s just using the taboo angle to get shocks which will bring him more attention. Great review! Out of all the subplots you mentioned i like the one who committed suicide because he feared opposing mubarak. The rest sounds like bad porn.

  8. I hate spoilers so I’m not reading, all I want to know is if it’s a good book, do you recommend it?

  9. Actually I liked it more than Ya3koobian Building. He has a nice style of writing. He manages to reflect reality in a very nice way. He may not add anything to you knowledge, but he does create real people characters.

    I am glad you at least found it entertaining :). I think it is a good book.

  10. it is on my to read list…but for when i go back home…i guess i will still read it…now i know what to expect though…gosh stop posting about books or else i will have an endless to read book list…

  11. The Observer,
    That doesn’t sound like reality for me! It’s like taking the worst that happened in the Iraqi war, and call it, “business as usual”

  12. I never read any of his books but maybe he writes his books with the intention of having it made to movies like he did with “3amaret ya3coubian”

    I haven’t read arabic books in a long time and I’d definitely not waste my time on that book. Hell, If I want entertainment, i have your 7aki fadi blogs. 😛

  13. Qwaider: Yeah they are the main story and they don’t add anything to the plot (hmm what plot come think of it) of the story, just cheap entertainment.
    Wow I think I haven’t watched an Arabic movie/musalsal for 5 years now.

    Imotion: Thanks for dropping by 😀 , little 7aki is a sweetheart , but drives me nuts too hehhehe.

    Mab3oos: Dude , your name is REAKING FUNNY, hahahahahaha.
    Awww was that a compliment? About the nice posts, thaaaaaaaaaanks.
    And yes the book is like a soap, it’s terrible but you can’t stop reading.

    Eyad: You are right Eyad, I do sometimes like a book although it adds nothing to me but I didn’t like this book 🙂
    Thanks for reading 😀

    Bambam: laish yikes? Too much sex in the post, lol.
    You do feel with the people but I just can’t get over the fact that the book is just lacking lots of stuff, I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it.
    And just soft porn filled, all the sex was forced and did not make sense, don’t get me wrong I don’t care if there’s soft porn, but it has to have a purpose.

    Salam: so you recommend reading The Ya3koobian building? Cool I will check it out.
    Well I don’t know Salam books are a personal thing, you might like it, but I didn’t 😀

    TGWTTAPCF: you have a REAAAAAAAAALy long name, lol.
    That is EXACTLY how I felt reading it, I just felt it was insincere, bad porn indeed.
    But don’t you think his reaction (killing himself) was over the top? I mean he was 60.
    Did you read the book by the way?

    Asoom: Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it, but again people have different opinions. So you might want to judge it for yourself 😀

    Observer: It’s always good to hear from you Fadi :),
    On google there are not a lot of reviews on the book so when I google the book your post comes up.
    See I don’t know if it was reality, I felt it was a bit exaggerated but I did feel with the characters.

    Sam: You should read it in Amman, it is a REALLY quick read, it took me a couple of days to read it.
    I am almost done with the book I am reading so another review is coming soon, hehehehehe.

    Hamza: I love you too 😛

  14. I won’t read the book then. Oh, and as advice, please don’t pick up the over-publicized book “the road” by cormac. It is hideously written… I can’t truly tell you how horrible it was to read. I couldn’t go past page 20 and the reason I read that many pages was because I hoped the English would get better.

    Statistically, he used the words “dark”, “ashen”, “barren”, and “cold” over 57 times. EACH single SENTENCE contains AT LEAST two “and”.

    And that’s 20 of the 252 pages

  15. how could you last through th eentire book? I would have gave up after the first chapter, or whever you realized it is going to be nothing more than a pile of cliches :S
    I hate books whose authors assume the book will sell because they are discussing a taboo subject o 5alas…

  16. loool… just what you posted sounds like 5 diff books! man, i hate when authors do that, writing about sex and scandals to sensationalize it and then have no actual story to tell!

  17. KJ: Wow that is HORRID, I will not read it .

    Dana: Well i have this issue which is if I start a book I don’t abandon it , I stick it out till the end.
    Exactly, they take advantage of the sexually frustrated people.

    tinker: exactly.

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