Video : Alaa Al Aswany on Riz Khan’s ‘One on One’

In a 2009 episode of his show One on One, “the Oprah of Al Jazeera” (which is selling him short) Riz Khan spoke to the Arab world’s best-selling novelist Alaa Al Aswany.

Avid readers of Al Aswany’s works will see some of the ideas about Egyptian society in Al Aswany’s novel in his answers to Khan’s questions. It will be hard not to think of Friendly Fire when Al Aswany talks about time being wasted in Egyptian society under the regime of recently deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Likewise, the best-selling novelist’s statements about the opportunities afforded him in his life placing an extra responsibility upon him towards his nation and countrymen, is reminiscent of several elements of The Yacoubian Building itself.

Al Aswany goes on to provide Khan with thoughtful insights on the novelists that have influenced him, most notably Gabriel García Márquez and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose work Al Aswany says transcends time and space to become something more resonant to the general human condition regardless of temporal and geographic constraints:

When you know more, you have more responsibility…towards your people

Im not happy with the way the Egyptian regime is dealing with the country and with the people. I believe that we are wasting our time. I believe that Egypt is a great country, it does deserve democracy and we must work to achieve this

I see [Gabriel] García Márquez as one of the most important novelists ever known

What is very important is not to be famous but to be appreciated by your readers