Istifan’s Desert Wind

Stephen Franklin, a veteran international correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is my office mate and fellow Knight Fellow. And in his four months here, he’s kept a web log about “Arab journalism and more.” He writes brief, but eloquent, little glimpses of the lives of writers and bloggers he’s met here in Egypt, on his “Desert Wind” blog.

This week, he met Alaa Al Aswany, the author of THE breakout hit of novels in Egypt: The Yacoubian Building. The book, which became a blockbuster film that is the modern Egyptian equivalent to “Gone With the Wind” — epic in scope and splendor, filled with the country’s best actors, and longer than a typical bladder can hold out — was read around the world, translated into 19 languages in a wave that Steve describes as a “Babel-like onslaught.”

In his post, Steve talks about Al Aswany’s latest book Chicago, as well as the one that the author is currently working on daily in his offce, which doubles as his dental practice, in the Garden City district of downtown Cairo.

Have a look at the post, and read the other entries, as Franklin introduces you to some of Egypt’s most interesting writers and thinkers. It’s a pleasure as welcome as a cool desert wind.

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