Chicago - and serial publication

A month or so ago I read "Chicago" by Alaa Al Aswany and I really enjoyed it.  Beyond the quality of the writing which was especially effective in characterisation I enjoyed learning a good deal more about the city and it's history in the opening part.  I had not realised how Chicago was affected by a fire early in it's history and lasting effect on the culture and particular pride of the fire service there in being able to handle fires, especially in the towers for which the city is famous.

This and the Muslim culture, reflected no doubt in large part from the author's own awareness and culture, resonated nicely with the modern world post 9/11 (which is topical now and was coming up at the time I read the book.

The plot and characters give particular insight to the politics of Muslims and what it is like to be a woman in that culture.  Relationships and their breakdown are explored with a degree of pathos quite unexpected.  There is a sad humour in the way one character handles a broken marriage made early in his life after leaving Egypt to make a new life - he relives his youth and even takes to wearing the clothes he had when he left, then going through a telephone directory to track down the love he left behind.  There are interesting insights into Egyptian expatriate life and the radical politics involved, which I had been completely unaware of - so ten out of ten to this book for showing me things I could learn from and broadening my horizons.

I was reminded of Armistead Maupin) the author who wrote a series of books set in San Fransisco popular during the nineties, especially amongst the gay community.  I have no idea if his books were serialised, but when I discovered that Alaa Al Aswany had written these and had them published in serial form I was completely unsurprised, having suspected as much when I read the novel.  Why is it that I invariably read these books in their complete form, and seldom am aware of their availability when they are being initially published as serials?  I wish I were it would be a new experience in reading!  Perhaps I shall seek one out soon, I feel there must be many published that way on the internet now.

Which brings me to the book recently selected by me at Reading Group - Phineas Finn ( by Anthony Trollope.  He is a more famous author who, like Dickens, published in his time in serial form.  I shall write of that soon, but the next post I make will be on "Suite Francais" which was the subject of the Reading Group this week.

PS having checked my wiki link for the author I was really quite surprised to discover the author is male!  Having commented on his insights into relationships and life as a muslim woman this is a credit to his skills and ability to write and characterise both men and women convincingly, I think.