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Egyptian Students Explore America In 'Chicago'

Former Egyptian presidential candidate Alaa Al Aswany is a journalist and the Arab world's best-selling fiction writer. He makes his living as a dentist in Cairo, which affords him an intimate look at the everyday lives of Egyptians — who often inspire his works.

His latest book, Chicago: A Novel, follows several recent Egyptian emigres as they study at the University of Illinois and their professors, who emigrated to the U.S. decades earlier.

Al Aswany says he drew from his own experiences as a student at the University of Illinois in the 1980s. And he tells Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen that the experience had a big impact.

"I learned something very important in my life in America ... what I call the know-how of success. How do you become a successful person?" Al Aswany says he took this knowledge back to Egypt and applied it to his writing.

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