Alaa Al Aswany originally trained as a dentist and retains his own dental practice in Cairo. 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.