The Yacoubian Building – Alaa Al Aswany

… the world was one thing and what she saw in Egyptian movies was another.
Some people are excitable and rebellious by nature, but the Egyptian keeps his head down his whole life long so he can eat.
Islam and democracy are opposites and can never met.
There’s evil in the best of people and in those closest to us.
“My death is close, Zaki. I can smell it.”
He is now training himself to love or hate people “in God.” He has learnt from the Sheikh that men are too despicable and lowly to be loved or hated for their this-worldly characteristics. On the contrary, our feelings toward them should be determined by the degree to which they observe God’s Law.
Her sole function is to sleep with this old man who every day lies on top her and suffocated her with his exhausted, dangling impotence and the touch of his smooth, disgusting body.
This conversation acted as a kind of overture, pulse-taking, and sharpening of the faculties, like the warm-up exercises that soccer players perform before a match.
I’m as straight as a sword. I don’t go back on my word.
Troubles never come singly.
In general their behaviour with any deviant person depended on how much they liked him. If they disliked him, they would rise up against him in defence of virtue, quarrel bitterly with him, and prevent their children from having anything to do with them. If, on the other hand, they liked him, as they did Abduh, they would forgive him and deal with him on the basis that he was misled and to be pitied, telling one another that everything in the end was fate and that it was not unlikely that God, Almighty and Glorious, would set him on the straight path –and “How many others have been worse than that but Our Lord set them straight and inspired them and they became saints.” They would say this smacking their lips and nodding their heads in sympathy.
However, the small victories, such as the bathroom and the cupboard, could only satisfy Malak’s lust for real estate in the manner that a victory at chess might satisfy a great military leader.
As a man will flick off with his fingers a few flecks of dust that have clung to the breast of his smart suit and continue on his way as though nothing had happened, so Hagg Azzam got rid of Souad Gaber and was able to erase his affection for her.

When she laughs, the muscles of her face contract, sweat stands out on her forehead, and she looks somewhat wild and strange as though she’d been taken by surprise by happiness and decided to grab it hard so it couldn’t get away.

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