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The Republic of False Truths: A Conversation with Alaa Al Aswany and Lyse Doucet

Bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany explains how his experience of the Egyptian Revolution inspired him to write his latest novel

It’s the first few weeks of 2011 and the streets of Cairo are a battleground between protestors and government forces. The world is witnessing the first days of the Arab Spring. Millions of Egyptians from different backgrounds have gathered to rise against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, and among them is novelist Alaa Al Aswany.

In his latest novel, The Republic of False Truths, which has been banned in Egypt and neighbouring countries, Al Aswany chronicles the hope, courage, and sacrifice of the civilians behind the uprising. In their fight for a better nation, Al Aswany’s characters grapple with the forces of state, power, governance, religion and society. Through the eyes of a young teacher, a governor, and a TV personality, we witness lives collide, love blossom, and the systems of power held to account.

The bestselling author of The Yacoubian Building and a leading figure in the Egyptian revolution, Al Aswany is one of the most formidable voices in the Arab world. He was listed first on The Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers list in 2011.

Alaa Al Aswany was in conversation with Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent. Together they discussed how Al Aswany’s experience of the Egyptian Revolution inspired him to write this novel of hope, love, revolution and political change.



Alaa Al Aswany

Acclaimed Egyptian writer known for his bestselling novels and for his vocal criticism of the Egyptian government.

Acclaimed Egyptian writer known for his bestselling novels and for his vocal criticism of the Egyptian government. He originally trained as a dentist and retains his own dental practice in Cairo. His novel The Yacoubian Building has sold over one million copies worldwide and was the bestselling novel in the Arab world for over five years. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages and published in over one hundred countries. He speaks Arabic, English, French, and Spanish. Al Aswany has received many awards internationally, including the Bashrahil Award for the Arabic novel, the Kafavis Award from Greece, and the Grinzane Cavour Award from Italy, and was named by The Times as one of the fifty best authors to have been translated into English over the last fifty years. In 2016, he was appointed a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. His other works include Chicago, Friendly Fire, The Automobile Club of Egypt, and The Dictatorship Syndrome, in addition to his new novel, The Republic of False Truths.

Lyse Doucet

The BBC's chief international correspondent

The BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, who played a key role in the BBC's coverage of the wars in Syria and Yemen and has covered all the major stories in the region for the past 20 years.