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FREE ⚣ Alexandrian Summer æ Alexandrian Summer is the story of two Jewish families living their frenzied last days in the doomed cosmopolitan social whirl of Alexandria just before fleeing Egypt for Israel inThe conventions of the Egyptian upper middle class are laid bare in this dazzling novel, which exposes startling sexual hypocrisies and portrays a now vanished polyglot world of horse racing, seaside promenades, and elegant night clubs Hamdi Ali senior is an old time patriarch with than a dash of strong Turkish blood His handsome elder son, a promising horse jockey, can t afford sexual frustration, as it leads him to overeat and imperil his career, but the woman he lusts after won t let him get beyond undoing a few buttons Victor, the younger son, takes his pleasure with other boys But the true heroine of the story richly evoked in a pungent upstairs downstairs mix is the raucous, seductive city of Alexandria itself Published in Hebrew in , Alexandrian Summer appears now in translation for the first timeYitzhak Gormezano Goren was born in Alexandria, Egypt, inand immigrated to Israel as a child A playwright and novelist, Goren studied English and French literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University In , he cofounded the Bimat Kedem Theater Helps show why postwar Alexandria inspires nostalgia and avidity in seemingly everyone who knew it The result is what summer reading should be fast, carefree, visceral, and incipiently lubricious The New Yorker Luminous One of the great triumphs of Alexandrian Summer is the richness of the evocation of this city and the multiple cultures pressed within it A sultry eroticism pervades The Forward Alexandria, a lush paradise by the sea, comes to antic, full bodied life Gormezano Goren s characters are vividly depicted as they grow up or grow older in a city of conflicting loyalties, riven by resentment, ready to revolt Readers will be transported Publishers Weekly This novel recalls one gloriously golden summer in a cosmopolitan city on the verge of upheaval Fluidly written and soberly enticing Library Journal A gifted writer Gormezano Goren defines the city and its ambiance in lush, sensuous terms He also describes so well the Diaspora Jew s knack for downplaying the danger of gathering storms of hatred, a tendency not limited to Alexandria or to any particular era of exile The Jerusalem Post A powerful novel of tensions sexual, familial, religious, and political and an affecting but unsparing portrait of the petit bourgeois world of Egyptian Jews standing obliviously on the edge of a precipice Alexandria sensual and enchanting shimmers in these pages Dalia Sofer, author of The Septembers of Shiraz A fine work of art riveting from the first page to the last Zo Haderekh A reason to rejoice You can t help but keep on smiling with great pleasure Maariv A profound literary experience Ahshav This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Alexandrian Summer is a melancholy of a long lost amalgam of cultures and peoples of Europe and the Near East Not a single stone is left from Alexandria s ancient bones, yet Yitzhak Gormezano Goren s mourning is for the new old city new compared to the ancient city that was the center of the world once upon a time, and old looking back from the end of the 20th century and now, from the 21st century The city itself is ever present with its stifling hot summer, its traffic and noise, its cool Alexandrian Summer is a melancholy of a long lost amalgam of cultures and peoples of Europe and the Near East Not a single stone is left from Alexandria s ancient bones, yet Yitzhak Gormezano Goren s mourning is for the new old city new compared to the ancient city that was the center of the world once upon a time, and old looking back from the end of the 20th century and now, from the 21st century The city itself is ever present with its stifling hot summer, its traffic and noise, its cooling sea, but what lies in the heart of the novel is the people People from everywhere People living what seems like an ancient tradition, but is just a fleeting moment in history Goren sets the story up as a longing for the past, a specific past, one that of a summer right before things changed in drastic ways Along the way, he describes exactly the way many cultures, ethnicities, and religions have lived next door to each other, for centuries, in peace and with tolerance in Anatolia, in North Africa, in Asia He also explains, through the words of the card game addicted ladies, the horse racing men, the sweaty, cruel boys, that the rifts that breathe open and closed have always been there, and perhaps, will always be there, as long as humans are human He describes women of Egypt as shadows of their husbands, born and raised He does the math when the little prince of the house gets a toy train set that costs seven times what the Arab servant makes in a month He puts the old grandmas in harm s way during a protest, and let s them easily survive it by pretending to be Greek, with their perfect Greek, the language of their childhood Alex, in Goren s eyes, is all about surviving, about belonging and never belonging, about living for the moment and never forgetting the past Perhaps it is about forgiving the past, for how else could you live for the moment Recommended for those who like horse races, ice cream, summer heat, marbles, naughty boys, fast talking grandmas, and, of course, great, ancient cities andre aciman king of melancholia I used to be Robert, too Twenty years ago I m coming from twenty years away I won t interrupt, I just want to watch, I won t interfere, God forbid I just want to tell the story of one summer, a Mediterranean summer, an Alexandrian summer.So Alexandrian Summer starts and finishes, with the writer returning to see his own ten year old self, Robby, on the balcony of the old apartment taking down car licence numberplates And at the end of the story, rain begins to fall on Robby, and he leaves h I used to be Robert, too Twenty years ago I m coming from twenty years away I won t interrupt, I just want to watch, I won t interfere, God forbid I just want to tell the story of one summer, a Mediterranean summer, an Alexandrian summer.So Alexandrian Summer starts and finishes, with the writer returning to see his own ten year old self, Robby, on the balcony of the old apartment taking down car licence numberplates And at the end of the story, rain begins to fall on Robby, and he leaves his notebook discarded on the balcony The summer was washed off the streets Winter came to Alexandria.In between is a story as flexible as a silken rope, moving with the slightly drugged hedonistic ease of summer days in cosmopolitan Alexandria at the height of the season But we re on the cusp of the Officer s Revolution that ended the leisured, settled life of the Jews of Alexandria Funny, sophisticated and knowing as it is, the book is full of the sad consciousness of a dying way of life and a future far from Alexandria.The Hamdi Alis, Joseph and Emilie and their two sons David and Victor, come from Cairo to spend the summer in Alexandria with Robby, his parents and his sister Anabella Robby is soon enticed by Victor into sexual games while David pursues the unresponsive Anabella, hardly able to comprehend that she isn t interested in such an Adonis as he knows himself to be In Anabella, Goren beautifully captures the ecstatic irresponsibility of being young and uncommitted But under its apparently meandering surface the story is building towards a confrontation it s the racing season and David, a prize winning jockey is up against the local hero Al Tal ooni he, David, the Jew, against the dark desert man Handsome and sought after as he is, David already carries the seeds of failure within him it s no stretch of the imagination to imagine him in ten years or so, the fair hair thinning, the waist spreading, the unrealistic dreams evaporated This is as good as it will get the heights of the summer season and the brief heroism of the racetrack And weighed against this insubstantial young man is the tragic figure of his father Joseph, who gave up his Muslim faith and family for love of a Jewish woman and is now realising the price he paid For him the question of whether David will win or lose against Al Tal ooni becomes an existential one that goes to his essence, his flesh beyond winning or losing a race at the Alexandria Sporting Club.Meanwhile the sheltered, powerless women play endless card games, gossiping and matchmaking in a lazy mix of French, Ladino, Arabic, Turkish and English the Arab servants play a pragmatic game of give and take with their Jewish employers and the Copts, Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Greek Orthodox, as Andre Aciman says in his introduction jostled each other without scruple the tussling was amicable enough and never deadly But no one was fooled for long.Different as it is in style and scope, there are echoes of the doomed glamour of Death in Venice I was reminded too of Naguib Mahfouz s Cairo trilogy and of Orhan Pahmuk s The Museum of Innocence, both of which present a similarly rich and loving picture of the writer s home city and its cultural life, and of the intimacies, bonds and unspoken laws of family nestled within it.Alexandrian Summer was first published in Hebrew in 1978 It s a classic of diaspora literature New Vessel Press has done us a great favour in bringing out this English version This story is beautiful and the words are too, evoking strong feelings and imagery Very well written and translated Spoilers In reading the first few chapters, I thought I wasn t going to love the book too much after all I thought the boys explorations into homosexual sex was pretty unrealistic Would boys do that Yes, I guess could believe that althoughawkward fumblings with hands and mouth would bebelievable Did they not feel pain But would all 5 boys And no one had This story is beautiful and the words are too, evoking strong feelings and imagery Very well written and translated Spoilers In reading the first few chapters, I thought I wasn t going to love the book too much after all I thought the boys explorations into homosexual sex was pretty unrealistic Would boys do that Yes, I guess could believe that althoughawkward fumblings with hands and mouth would bebelievable Did they not feel pain But would all 5 boys And no one had any reservations at all I don t know Maybe Victor hadcharisma and ability to influence people than anybody realised As I read on, I was able to put that aside because the other characters started to come alive The character who really touched me was Joseph Yusef His was a tragic story The other characters are all beautiful in their own ways Emile was kind, grandma wascompassionate and wise than her words sometimes suggest, and David was I feel sorry for him I think David got the looks, but Victor got the intelligence Victor, despite his ugliness and relative youth, seems to me to be theself accepting and fearless of the two He was pretty wretched most of the story, but I suspect he had to be this way to survive David wouldn t survive in his brother s skin