Out of Egypt: A Memoir

André Aciman

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Out of Egypt: A Memoir

Out of Egypt A Memoir Set in luxuriant cosmopolitan Alexandria this richly colored memoir chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family from its bold arrival in Egypt at the turn of the century to its defeated exo

  • Title: Out of Egypt: A Memoir
  • Author: André Aciman
  • ISBN: 9781573225342
  • Page: 121
  • Format: Paperback
  • Set in luxuriant cosmopolitan Alexandria, this richly colored memoir chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family from its bold arrival in Egypt at the turn of the century to its defeated exodus three generations later In elegant and witty prose, Andre Aciman introduces us to the Olympian figures who shaped his life Uncle Vili, the strutting daredevil, by turnsSet in luxuriant cosmopolitan Alexandria, this richly colored memoir chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family from its bold arrival in Egypt at the turn of the century to its defeated exodus three generations later In elegant and witty prose, Andre Aciman introduces us to the Olympian figures who shaped his life Uncle Vili, the strutting daredevil, by turns soldier, salesman, Italian Fascist, and British spy the two grandmothers, the Princess and the Saint, who gossip in six languages the father, a diffident capitalist who considers converting to Islam to maintain his Alexandrian dolce vita Aunt Flora, the German refugee who warns that Jews lose everything at least twice in their lives.

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      Posted by:André Aciman
      Published :2019-02-17T08:49:35+00:00

    One thought on “Out of Egypt: A Memoir

    1. Jan Rice on said:

      Unlike features of a landscape like trees and mountains, people have feet. They move to places where the opportunities are best, and they soon invite their friends and relatives to join them. This demographic mixing turns the landscape into a fractal, with minorities inside minorities inside minorities.--Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature, p. 241First read in 2008; given a thumbnail review in May, 2013:Although I read this book in the past, I know the exact date for once, because in [...]

    2. Cheryl on said:

      3.5 stars. One benefit of reading this memoir is what you learn about the climate of Egypt after the Egyptian revolution and the Suez Canal Company debacle, how it must have felt for a Jewish-European family living and doing business in Egypt. I must admit, I liked False Papers better because I love Aciman as an essayist. I probably cheated though, because False Papers is what comes after Aciman's exile from Egypt. Andre Aciman came of age in Egypt during Nasser's pan-Arabic and anti-imperialist [...]

    3. Ruby Hollyberry on said:

      This book is utterly fascinating. This family of Turkish Jews speaks a form of Spanish (except the ones who speak German), tell people they are Italian, identify with France, and live in Alexandria Egypt, before leaving due to war and the same seizure of goods they suffered a generation or two earlier in Turkey. They have had many turns of fortune and fate, and the most successful family members double as spies/con artists as much as businessmen. The author is a much-loved, spoiled child of a ti [...]

    4. يوسف زهدى on said:

      A controversial humanitarian read, you can call it a story or a memorial (as the author did) or a partial biography of European Jewish family & community living in Alexandria - Egypt between the early years of the 20th century till the forced deportation of foreigners and Jews by Nasser regime (1900s-1960s).Andre Aciman - family, extended family and community were rich Jews with European passports, they settled in Alexandria after moving from Turkey late in 1800s-eartly 1900s and established [...]

    5. A.M. Khalifa on said:

      Beautifully written. Deliciously nostalgic, evocative, heart-warming and immediately addictive. Especially emotionally pertinent for anyone with a connection to Egypt, to reminisce on how this country was not that long ago a melting pot of tolerance, vibrance and sophistication. Cannot recommend it enough.

    6. Don on said:

      André Aciman's memoir of growing up Jewish -- and speaking French -- in post-World War II Alexandria. His family had moved to that city from Constantinople in 1905, back when both cities lay within the Ottoman Empire. Aciman found his native city -- along with his family -- to be a treasure chest of strange sights, quirky personalities and bizarre events. He lovingly describes each of his dysfuntional family members, relying on his own memory,the memories of others, and stories and documentatio [...]

    7. Lyn Elliott on said:

      An appealing memoir of Aciman's Sephardic family life in Alexandria in the 1950s and 60s, from his earliest childhood until the time the family was forced to leave Egypt when he was 15.His grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and wider circles of family and friends are sketched with perceptive wit and affection as the violent events of the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath swirl around them. Loved it.

    8. Marica on said:

      Uno spartiacqueSpesso la vita ha uno spartiacque e gli avvenimenti si collocano prima o dopo. Quello di André Aciman è l’addio ad Alessandria d’Egitto, dove le famiglie dei suoi genitori vivevano da 3 generazioni. E’ un addio annunciato da anni, col peggiorare dei rapporti diplomatici con Francia, Gran Bretagna e Israele durante la crisi di Suez: il governo egiziano spremeva bene bene le famiglie di origine straniera che avevano vissuto, lavorato, creato lavoro e arricchito la società e [...]

    9. Jim Leffert on said:

      It’s a beautifully written, intimate memoir about growing up in a Jewish family of Sephardic heritage in Alexandria, Egypt. We learn about the family’s experiences from World War II, before Andre Aciman was born, until 1965, when Andre was 15 and the family was forced to leave Egypt. Andre’s extended family were nominally Italian citizens but had been living in Constantinople. In 1908, Andre’s great uncle encouraged the entire family to go to Egypt to seek economic opportunities, since t [...]

    10. Patrick Cook on said:

      “All those who discuss the departure from Egypt in detail are considered praiseworthy."— Passover Haggadah“Say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing."— Cavafy, “The God Abandons Antony” The phrase “Out of Egypt” is richly evocative. To a contemporary reader, it brings to mind Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen’s “Out of Africa”, a lyrical meditation on life as a member of a privileged colonial class. To anyone with a passing familiarity with the Hebrew Bible, it has a the [...]

    11. Andrew Rosner on said:

      A beautifully written memoir, particularly relevant and poignant given recent events in the Middle East.Lawrence Durrell wrote in his Alexandria Quartet that Alexandria was shared by "five races, five languages, a dozen creeds: five fleets turning through their greasy reflections behind the harbor bar. But there are more than five sexes." But as Paul Theroux wrote in his travelogue of the Mediterranean (The Pillars of Hercules), "Alexandria is [now] a monoglot city of one race, Arabic-speaking A [...]

    12. Mark on said:

      I really enjoyed this memoir by Andre Aciman, whose Sephardic Jewish family lived in Egypt for 50 years, yet never considered themselves Egyptian and were never able to become Egyptian citizens. They were originally from Spain, were part of the Medieval diaspora, migrated to Constantinople, then migrated to Alexandria in 1905 where they owned businesses and lived every day life using a mixture of French, Ladino, Italian, Turkish and Greek (aside from Aciman himself, they never learned Arabic). T [...]

    13. Trina on said:

      This memoir introduced me to a place, time and culture I found fascinating: an extended family of wealthy Sephardic Jews in Alexandria, Egypt. Aciman was a teenager when he left Alexandria, which was the fate of all or most of the Jews doing private business in Egypt in the 60s. They had come from elsewhere post World War 2 to British-ruled Egypt-- Constantinople (sic), Smyrna (sic), Italy, France, Greece, Syria. Aciman's great-grandmother and great-grandfather had 9 children, and they were all [...]

    14. Billy on said:

      I'm not sure why these Mediterranean Jews in "Out of Egypt" seem so familiar. Surely, the narrator and his family could not be more different than me or my family. Or maybe there is something that ties us together, something beyond, but not completely beyond, the Syrian shul that my grandmother attended in Brooklyn. And how could our secure life in America be compared to their perilous situation in Egypt? My feelings about New York are mirrored in the young Andre's ties to his Alexandria. While [...]

    15. Mmars on said:

      Because Aciman's extended family, and not himself, seemed his primary focus it is unfortunate that who was who was so unclear. It think his intention was to present the Jewish experience in and expulsion from Alexandria in the 1900s. However, his family was his focus, and I was unable to get comfortable with the characters and therefore unable to enjoy the stories. His mother was quite clear to me, but the "nicknamed" grandmothers and various others were muddled and became a roadblock for me. Th [...]

    16. L. Donovan on said:

      As a memoir, it's superb. Aciman expertly entwines the multiplicity of cultures, languages, and customes with which he grew up. He does play a bit fast and loose with time frames and ages, so the large cast of family can become confusing. All in all, it was worth the read, but it won't go on my to be re-read shelf.

    17. Noel on said:

      This is a beautifully written memoir, a soulful read. I wish i could go to school where this guy is teaching a class on "How to write your Memoir." The class includes, of course, that all-important section on how memoirs differ greatly from autobiographies

    18. CatherineMustread on said:

      Before their exodus from Alexandria in 1956, three generations of a close knit Jewish family had lived a prosperous life.

    19. Joseph on said:

      Beautifully written: a real gem of a memoir. Aciman paints a beautiful picture of an Alexandria long gone.

    20. Simona on said:

      "Che quanti si godevano la prima passeggiata non avrebbero mai saputo, mai nemmeno immaginato, chee quella era la nostra ultima notte ad Alessandria".Il mio approccio con Aciman comincia con questo romanzo che, per quanto sia affascinante, è molto disordinato e poco lineare."Ultima notte ad Alessandria" è un memoir, una sorta di diario anche se non ha la struttura di questo genere. E' un memoir in cui lo stesso Aciman racconta la storia della sua famiglia costretta a lasciare Alessandria D'Egi [...]

    21. Chris on said:

      I loved "Call me by your name" and wanted to try this. It's a memoir of his growing up in Alexandria and I was also interested because I read Friedman's book about the Middle East (blocking on title) but he talked about one of the tragedies of the founding of Israel is that many Jewish communities in the Middle East, some of which had been there for 1,000 years, were forced to leave. He's a wonderful writer and stories about his family almost seemed like Marquez. My one complaint is that I would [...]

    22. Kam on said:

      I got to page 29 and thought "okay, enough exposition, is this book gonna start?" And there was more exposition. I skimmed to page 53, with a couple of minor exceptions, like it felt like there might be a plot coming on, some muscle to this book! Alas no, it continued in its descriptive fashion. I'm surprised at the number of five stars it got on here! In fact, the blurbs on the back of the book are from highly reputable places. Is this one of those 'Gotta encourage this guy', for some reason? A [...]

    23. Marcos on said:

      This was a beautiful memoir, filled with World War II intrigue, the magic of the movies, and of Mr. Aciman's life in Alexandria, Egypt. The memoir contains beautiful, structured sentences that preview of what's to come out of Mr. Aciman's talent- Call Me By Your Name and Enigma Variations. This memoir was a joyful read, and reminiscent of (though he was not poor) of Angela's Ashes; Reading Lolita in Tehran, and other coming-of-age memoirs that could be read by high-schoolers.

    24. Anna on said:

      Aciman's memoir is both a richly textured visual transport, capturing that particular quality of sunlight, the sounds and smells of Alexandria, and the tragic saga of one family's never-ending diaspora. I was captivated by Aciman's delicate balance of nostalgic yearning for a beautiful time and place, and also his honesty about the cruelty inherent in that paradise.

    25. Camille on said:

      This is my second time reading with this memoir, having read it when it was first published. It was worth another turn. Aciman is a such a supple writer! I loved every sentence and every crazy character in Aciman's life. But this book needs a family tree or cast of characters badly to help the reader connect the relationship dots among the many relatives, friends, neighbors, and servants.

    26. Jim on said:

      Aciman is as good a writer as I had read. He has a fluid, excellent style. This biographical book of his life in Alexandria with an extended family who had emigrated from Turkey, is fascinating. It is incisive about people, politics, and the times. I haven't read his novels, but this is a marvelous book.

    27. Linda Bakst on said:

      I knew nothing about this period in history - Egypt in the '50s and early '60s. The life of this unusual Jewish family in that time and place was eye-opening. While I found it difficult to keep some of the family members straight, I found the story compelling and I learned a lot.

    28. Denis on said:

      I have never been to Alexandria, Egypt, but reading Durrell’s Justine made me feel like I suddenly knew it (or at least knew Alexandria as it was in the past), and when I reached the last page of the novel, I immediately longed to revisit the fabled city again. By chance, Out of Egypt, which entirely takes place in Alexandria, was waiting for me on my shelves. I didn’t think twice, and that very night I opened the book, which I had purchased years ago. I knew André Aciman to be an elegant a [...]

    29. Timothy Ratliffe on said:

      First of all, I confess to a tendency to read anything I can about pre-modern Alexandria. I would probably read the tax rolls if I could get them. My shelf is about out of space now, but this little book has grown on me after I read it and put it away. My problem now is that I could say that it filled my glass half full, or on the other hand left it half empty. I would like more like this. I would like to understand what happened on a personal level within the collapse of that Hellenized city on [...]

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