This month’s National Geographic Magazine has an extended interview with the Egyptian author (and dentist) Alaa Al Aswany, whose recent Arabic novel, The Yacoubian Building, is a major bestseller.

“Just who is the Arab world listening to? Not only radical sheikhs and militant politicians. The man whose voice has captivated the Arab public is a Cairo dentist by day and a novelist by dawn. Alaa Al Aswany’s novel The Yacoubian Building is a phenomenon—the best-selling novel in the Middle East for two years and the inspiration for the biggest budget movie ever produced in Egypt. The novel paints a poignant and uncompromising picture of life in modern Cairo, as seen through the eyes of a carnival of characters—from the richest and most powerful to the poorest. An outspoken critic of the Mubarak regime and a friendly, self-effacing man, Dr. Al Aswany studied dentistry, and the American way of life, in the U.S. He has a humanist’s love of pondering what makes people do what they do.”

To read the interview online, click here.