Alaa Al-Aswany on the Unauthorized Hebrew Translation of ‘The Yacoubian Building’

According to The Associated Press, best-selling Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany has lashed out at an unauthorized Hebrew translation of his most popular novel. He has called it, unsurprisingly, intellectual theft.

The Associated Press put intellectual “theft” in quotes, although I don’t know how else one would describe it. Long-term borrowing?

Al-Aswany told the AP Friday that he will sue an Israeli centre for translating The Yacoubian Building. He further told the news service that he is—unsurprisingly—opposed to cultural normalization with Israel.

The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information acknowledged it translated the book against Al-Aswany’s will on the grounds of “expanding cultural awareness.” (Um, excuse me? Are all intellectual property rights then up for grabs, if one claims to be “expanding cultural awareness”? Oh good.)

For many opposing perspectives, including notes by Yahia Lababidi and a distinction on Al-Aswany’s feelings for the government of Israel vs. his feelings for Jews, visit the NYTimes comment section on their ArtsBeat post.

On a very side note, I was pleased to see Al Aswany’s novels at the Dar El Shorouk booth here at the Sharjah International Book Fair after their unceremonious banning from the Kuwait Book Fair earlier in the month.