literature

The dentist and the story that shook Egypt

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Dr Alaa Al Aswany's first published novel, The Yacoubian Building, provoked fury from the Egyptian regime, but has captured the imagination of the Egyptian public. Gehan Shabaan asks the bestselling author about his work and the film adaptation coming to Britain this month.

Any novel portraying Egyptian society as highly class divided and deeply corrupted by dictatorship was always likely to be controversial. But what special problems have you encountered, because The Yacoubian Building was both very popular and controversial?

Obituary: Ousmane Sembene

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Ousmane Sembène was one of those rare people whose death feels like a personal loss even to those who did not know him. We have lost a great mind.

Sembène had an extraordinary life. Born in 1923, he was sent by his father to an Islamic school in the Casamance - the poor southern region of today's Senegal, then part of the huge French West African colonial empire. Expelled from the school in 1936 for indiscipline, he worked as a fisherman before leaving to find work in the capital, Dakar.

Rights of Passage

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The rise of imperialism in the 19th century was reflected in the literature of the period. Gareth Jenkins examines the contradictions of empire's novelists.

It would be easy to dismiss the literature of imperialism as little more than boys' own stuff - adventure stories designed to glorify Britain's conquest of the globe and mask its brutality with myths about bringing light to the benighted heathen.

Interview: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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'My book is not just about people thrown into a war where we watch them die. It is about people who have full lives and how war changes them'. The award winning author of Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, talks to Charlie Kimber about her new novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, set during the Biafran War.

Although she is only 29 years old, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won wide acclaim. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the Booker.

Her latest book, Half of a Yellow Sun, focuses on the Biafran War.

From One Struggle to Another

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From colonialism to nationhood and capitalism, Mike Gonzalez looks at the evolution of Latin American literature and its inspirations.

In 1941 the US publisher Farrar & Rinehart advertised a competition for the best Latin American novel. It was won by Broad and Alien is the World, set in a mountain community in Peru. Its author, Ciro Alegria, was one of a generation of writers who called themselves the indigenistas, middle class intellectuals committed to recuperating the culture and traditions of the indigenous communities of the Andes.

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