A fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed ”scientist of women.” A purring, voluptuous siren. A young shop-girl enduring the clammy touch of her boss and hating herself for accepting the modest banknotes he tucks into her pocket afterward. An earnest, devout young doorman, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism. A cynical, secretly gay newspaper editor, helplessly in love with a peasant security guard. A roof-squatting tailor, scheming to own property. A corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify taking a mistress.
All live in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor slowly decaying in the smog and hubbub of downtown Cairo, Egypt. In the course of this unforgettable novel, these disparate lives converge, careening inexorably toward an explosive conclusion. Tragicomic, passionate, shockingly frank in its sexuality, and brimming with an extraordinary, embracing human compassion, The Yacoubian Building is a literary achievement of the first order.