Alaa al-Aswany: How I Helped My Novel Character

"At some point I feel that the characters do exist... they become independent." Watch the praised Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany in this short and humorous conversation about his - autonomous - novel characters.

It is essential to al-Aswany that his characters always feel like living people: "I cannot impose on them what they should do... I try of course to convince them to do the right thing." At some point his characters even start taking things into their own hands, as in his novel 'The Yacoubian Building': "The next day I opened the laptop and I realized that overnight they decided to get married... I got happy and I congratulated them!"

Alaa al-Aswany (b. 1947 in Cairo, Egypt) is one of the Middle East's most popular novelists and Egypt's biggest selling. His second novel 'The Yacoubian Building', which is an ironic depiction of modern Egyptian society, was published in 2002 and quickly gained national as well as international recognition, not least due to its straightforward depiction of (homosexual) sexuality and avid corruption. In 2013, al-Aswany published his third novel 'The Automobile Club of Egypt'. Moreover, he still works as a dentist.

Alaa al-Aswany was interviewed by Bjørn Bredal at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2014.

Camera: Klaus Elmer, Simon Weyhe and Nikolaj Jungersen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden