Alaa Al Aswany originally trained as a dentist, and still has his own practice in Cairo. He worked for many years in the Yacoubian Building, which lent its name to his bestselling novel. The Yacoubian Building was longlisted for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2006, has sold over one million copies worldwide, and was the bestselling novel in the Arab world for over five years. Al Aswany is also the author of Chicago (named by Newsday as the best translated novel of 2006) and Friendly Fire. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages, and published in over 100 countries. He speaks Arabic, English, French, and Spanish. The author 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 recently named by The Times (London) as one of the best 50 authors to have been translated into English over the last 50 years.