HomeTravel‘Egypt had the longest hours in the world’ – André Aciman’s Alexandrian...

‘Egypt had the longest hours in the world’ – André Aciman’s Alexandrian awakening

Set against the backdrop of Alexandria, “Out of Egypt” delves into the rich tapestry of André Aciman’s Sephardic Jewish family, spanning their arrival in Egypt at the turn of the century to their eventual expulsion three generations later.

Aciman tenderly narrates a tale of childhood innocence, interwoven with the complexities of familial dynamics and the heartache of being uprooted from a cherished homeland. His recollections are peppered with a cast of colorful characters: the enigmatic Uncle Vili, with his multifaceted identity as soldier, salesman, Italian Fascist, and British spy; the two grandmothers, known as the Princess and the Saint, who engage in gossip spanning six languages; the melancholic Aunt Flora, whose forewarnings about the vicissitudes of Jewish life resonate deeply; and his father, contemplating conversion to Islam as a means of remaining in Alexandria.

Through elegant prose, Aciman masterfully paints a portrait of a bygone era, bridging cultures and generations with poignant insight.

Within these pages, Aunt Flora emerges as a central figure, her afternoon gatherings depicted vividly, accompanied by the sweetness of rainbow sherbets, offering a glimpse into a world steeped in tradition and familial bonds.

Aunt Flora

Aunt Flora

Later, Aciman ruminates on his Aunt’s time in Venice, capturing her love of music and the melancholy of suspended existence brought on by the war years:

 Aunt’s time in Venice

André Aciman was born in Alexandria and raised in Egypt, Italy, and France. He is a Professor of Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City and is the author of False Papers as well as Call Me By Your Name, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2017.

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