Alaa Al Aswany

Teaches at Alaa Al Aswany Creative Writing Workshop

Recognized as one of the greatest novelists and master storytellers, Alaa Al Aswany is the recipient of 20 international literary honors and awards. His novels are acclaimed in the field of contemporary literature, selling millions of copies in three dozen languages and adapted into film and theater performances. The Times of London selected Al Alswany among the 50 most important novelists in the last half century. He was named at the 2010 Paris Book Fair one of 30 most remarkable non-French writers.

Al Aswany reached international literary acclaim with his groundbreaking novel The Yacoubian Building. Through the prism of a fashionable downtown Cairo building, he exposes the corrupt deal making and exploitative relationships of power in Mubarak’s Egypt. His most recent published novel The Automobile Club of Egypt tells the story of family, servitude, and the struggle for dignity during a time when decaying monarchy and growing resistance to occupation alters a nation’s destiny.

Al Aswany is the author of sixteen literary works—novels, short story collections, and compendiums of his articles. His op-eds have appeared in such international publications as The New York Times, Le Monde, the Financial Times, and The Guardian. Al Aswany was chosen to be among 21 international writers to publish a monthly column in The New York Times for one year. He pens a weekly column for Deutsche Welle’s Arabic news site and is fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.

Al Aswany is passionate about teaching and nurturing young literary talent. In 2017, he was a visiting professor at Bard College, where he successfully taught a course he devised on the arc of the short story. Receiving accolades from his students, he continues his dedication to education with a series of creative writing workshops in Brooklyn, New York.



The Republic As If, forthcoming (2017)
The Automobile Club of Egypt, 2013
Chicago, 2007
The Yacoubian Building, 2002
Essam Abd al-Aatty Papers, 1990

Short Story Collections

Friendly Fire (novella and short story collection), 2004 and 2008
Awaiting the Leader, 1998
He Who Approached and Saw, 1990

Compendium of Articles

Who Dares to Speak, 2016
Democracy Is the Answer (English), 2015
Dictatorship and Religious Extremism (French), 2014
How Do We Create the Dictator?, 2013
Did the Egyptian Revolution Err?, 2012
On the State of Egypt, 2011
Egypt on the Substitute Bench, 2010
Why Don’t Egyptians Revolt?, 2010
Do We Deserve Democracy?, 2010


Bashrahil Award for Arabic Fiction, 2005
Cavafy Award for Literary Talent, Greece, 2005
Grand Prix of the Novel, Toulon France Festival, 2006
Mediterranean Culture Award, Naples, Italy, 2007
Grinzani Cavour Award, Turin, Italy, 2007 (the most prestigious Italian award for translated literature)
Bruno Kreisky literary Award, Austria, 2008 (awarded by the prime minister of Austria)
Friedrich Rukert Literary Award, 2008 (Alaa Al Aswany was the first recipient of the award)
Achievement Award from the University of Illinois, October 2010 (Alaa Al Aswany completed his master’s degree at the University of Illinois)
Tiziano Terzani Award, Odeon, Italy, May 2011
Johann Philipp Palm Award, Germany, 2012
Majidi bin Zahir Arab Literature Award, Montreal, Canada, 2011


Alaa Al Aswany’s literary works have been translated into 36 foreign languages. They include Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Castilian, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

The French literary magazine Lire chose the novel The Yacoubian Building to be ranked sixth among the top 20 books exported to France in 2006.

Newsday chose the The Yacoubian Building as the best translated novel in the United States, 2006

The Yacoubian Building celebrated its millionth copy sold in non-Arabic languages, 2007

Al Aswany was chosen as the most prominent figure in the Arab world by an Al Arabia news channel poll, 2007

In May 2009 his short stories were published in the literary supplement of the Sunday Times.

He was chosen by The Times (UK), as one of the most important novelists in the world for the last fifty years.

He was chosen at the international book fair in Paris as one of the 30 most important non-French writers in the world, March 2010.

Foreign Policy magazine ranked him in first place on a list of the 100 most influential thinkers in the world, 2011

The renowned French director John Louis Martinelli presented a play based on his novel Chicago. The play opened on September 2011 in Paris’s Les Amandiers Theater.

He was chosen as guest of honor in Le Marathon des mots, France’s largest international literary festival in Toulouse in 2009 and 2012, where international actor Omar Sharif and French actress Ariane Escarad read excerpts from his literary works in French.

The Christian Science Monitor chose The Automobile Club of Egypt in third place among the top ten best novels in the United States, 2015

The Journal of American Publishers chose The Automobile Club of Egypt, as the novel of the week in the US, 2015.

He was chosen as honorary president of the Blois Festival, one of the largest literary festivals in France, 2015

His name and literary works were added to the famous French encyclopedia Le Petit Larousse.

He has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal from the French government, 2016


Published articles, short stories, and serialized novels in most Egyptian literary periodicals.

Wrote a weekly literary critique entitled “Parenthetically” in the Egyptian newspaper al-Sha‘ab, later becoming responsible for the culture page.

Wrote a monthly political article in the Egyptian newspaper al-Arabi al-Nasiri.

Wrote a weekly article in the Egyptian newspaper al-Dustur.

Wrote a weekly article in the Egyptian newspaper al-Shuruk.

Wrote a weekly article in al-Masry al-Youm until 2014 when he was banned by the Egyptian military regime.

Many of his articles were translated and republished in major international newspapers, such as Le Monde, El País, The Guardian, The Independent, among others.

Wrote articles in international newspapers such as La Repubblica, Financial Times, and L'Observateur.

Wrote a monthly column in The New York Times.

Currently writing a weekly article for Deutsche Welle Arabic news website. Articles are translated into German and English.

Organized weekly salons since 1998 to present the works of young writers and discuss literature, culture, and politics in Egypt. This salon played a role in intellectually preparing for Egypt’s revolution.

Languages Spoken

English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.