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‘Friendly Fire’ is a novella and collection of short stories from Alaa Al Aswany, author of the bestselling ‘The Yacoubian Building’. As in that novel, Al Aswany dissects modern Egyptian society and, with skill and detachment, reveals the hypocrisy, violence and abuse of power characteristic of a world in moral crisis. Here, though, the focus has shifted from the broad historical canvas to the minute stitches of pain that hold together an individual, a family, a school classroom and the relationship between a man and a woman. Can a man so alienated from his society that he regards all its members as no better than microbes wriggling under a microscope survive within it? Can cynical religiosity triumph over human decency? Can a man put the thought of a delicious dish of beans behind him long enough to mourn his father’s death?