The best selling author, political commentator-activist and dentist Alaa al Aswany was quoted as saying this in yesterday´s Observer.
¨'In Egypt, we have freedom of talk, which is not the same as freedom of speech,' he says. 'In a democracy, freedom of speech is a tool of evaluation and change, but in my country, you can write whatever you want, but also the government does whatever it wants. The ruling party is controlling everything so you are not going to change anything. Every now and again you have a case like [Suleiman]. I have friends who have been arrested and tortured, but this is more because of political actions than writing. ¨
The name within the brackets is of course Kareem
, who´s currently serving a four year prison term for insulting Islam and the President.
As i have written about earlier on here
, the novel Yacoubian building was launched in the UK in February this year. The coming weekend will mark the beginning of a joint effort by ICA and Harper Collins to maximize the chances for a Yaquobian frenzy in Britain, The film is released this Friday
and the paperback version has been out in the bookshops
for the last week.
Gavin Esler interviewed Alaa al Aswany on hardtalk extra in February, you can find it here
. The author has published another novel in arabic, Chicago which was first serialized in the Cairo weekly al Destour, and then published by Dar al Shorouk
. An English translation is expected in 2008 by the AUC Press in Cairo
Those of you who live in the UK, and have not had the opportunity yet to read or watch the film are in for a treat.
UPDATE: Chicago, Aswany´s latest novel has now been translated to french. You can find a review in Le Monde´s book supplement at arabist.
Labels: Alaa al Aswany, Aswany, freedom of speech, freedom of talk, UK, Yacoubian Building