André Aciman Out of Egypt: A Memoir

ISBN 13: 9780312426552

Out of Egypt: A Memoir

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9780312426552: Out of Egypt: A Memoir
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This richly colored memoir chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family, from its bold arrival in cosmopolitan Alexandria to its defeated exodus three generations later. In elegant and witty prose, André Aciman introduces us to the marvelous eccentrics who shaped his life--Uncle Vili, the strutting daredevil, soldier, salesman, and spy; the two grandmothers, the Princess and the Saint, who gossip in six languages; Aunt Flora, the German refugee who warns that Jews lose everything "at least twice in their lives." And through it all, we come to know a boy who, even as he longs for a wider world, does not want to be led, forever, out of Egypt.

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About the Author:

André Aciman is the author of False Papers and Call Me by Your Name. He teaches comparative literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center and lives in Manhattan with his family.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Aciman (French Literature/Princeton) delivers a clear- eyed eulogy of a lost past and a family in decline. Aciman's Jewish-Turkish-Italian family came to Alexandria, Egypt, in 1905, long before young Andr‚ was born. There they lived in highly leveraged splendor as Aciman's great-aunts and -uncles--particularly Great-uncle Vili, the flamboyant youngest brother--made and lost fortunes, despised the Arab natives, and survived two world wars. The family rose to, and fell from, the heights of government and European-Egyptian society, and by the late 1960s the entire clan had either died, emigrated, or been expelled from their adoptive home. Aciman begins his memoir in the recent past, with a visit to Great-uncle Vili, the first of the family to emigrate. The octogenarian had achieved his goal of becoming a genteel--and gentile-- Englishman: Because of his service to the British during WW II--all the while remaining faithful to Italian Fascism--he was granted a country estate in Surrey, where he lived out his life as Dr. H.M. Spingarn. Vili's sister Esther, Aciman's grandmother and one of the last to leave Egypt, was a mazmazelle, a European grande dame who dined at Alexandria's Sporting Club, fingered produce in the market, and bargained mercilessly with the local merchants. She also smuggled money out of Egypt for years before she was expelled along with her sister Elsa and Aciman and his parents. Aciman creates a romantic portrait of a bygone time without idealizing his colorful ancestors. Much of their interest is, in fact, in their pettiness, spitefulness, and bigotry. They were simultaneously assimilated, anti-Semitic, and practicing Jews; masters of their Egyptian servants and ``Dogs of the Arabs.'' Aciman's father was an unrepentant philanderer, his deaf mother a source of shame. He himself appears mainly as observer of the group's deterioration. A skillful portrayal of an extraordinary clan. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780374228330: Out of Egypt: A Memoir

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Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994
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