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Alexandrian Summer

Yitzhak Gormezano Goren

Alexandrian Summer is the story of two Jewish families in Alexandria, Egypt, before the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952. The conventions of the Egyptian upper-middle class are laid bare in this atmospheric novel, which exposes and pokes fun at the rather startling sexual hypocrisies of the bourgeoisie. Hamdi-Ali senior is an old-time patriarch with more than a dash of strong Turkish blood who knows that binding one's wife to the old iron bedstead and administering the occasional whiplash is the way to keep the home-fires burning. His elder son, a promising horse jockey, can't afford sexual frustration, as it leads him to overeating and imperils his career, but the woman he lusts after won't let him get beyond undoing a few buttons. Victor, the younger son, has no such problems: little girls being the coy creatures they are, he opts for little boys and at a tender age orchestrates gay orgies among the play school set.

Most of the action is viewed from the perspective of Robby, the young son of the hosting Jewish family. But  vivid as his perceptions are, the true heroine of the story - smooth as marble and quietly observing the raucous traffic, swarming crowds and braying donkeys - is Alexandria itself.


REVIEWS
ENGLISH PRESS

The novel … balances a poetic stream-of consciousness with witty dialogue and interjections in Arabic, Ladino, Greek and French, which Yardenne Greenspan's translation preserves. The cumulative narrative voice that emerges is engaging and varied, providing a rare insight into the cultural geography of the city's pre-revolutionary Jewish community … A subtle novel … a refreshing and nuanced portrayal of the Jewish diaspora in Egypt - a community that has received little attention in either Arab or Israeli fiction.
The Times Literary Supplement

 

Goren beautifully describes Alexandria’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual society at a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together harmoniously … Despite its underlying theme, Jews vs. Muslims, Alexandrian Summer remains above all a love letter to the lush paradise of Alexandria, a city once famous for its magnificent library of books and manuscripts from all over the ancient world … giving rise once again to a polyglot, cultured society that included writers such as the poet Constantine Cavafy, the novelist Lawrence  Durrell (The Alexandria Quartet) and, now, Yitzhak Gormezano Goren.

Moment

 

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


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.
Author Dalia Sofer

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 to an Alexandria full of "unending Mediterranean energy.
Publishers Weekly 

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

HEBREW PRESS
Colorful and full of rich description, integrating passages of powerful personal experience into a planned artistic texture … The sensual and multi-colored texture, [that re-create] the uniqueness of a place and time is the best thing about this singular novel, conjuring up an exceptional and remote world in flowing contemporary Hebrew. This gives the novel a dimension of daring and light-hearted piquanterie, which is at the same time refined and cultivated.
Haaretz

Unbelievable … A reason to rejoice … A mature, well-defined, engrossing first novel. An author with superb power of expression …You can’t help but keep on smiling with great pleasure … Recommended. 
Maariv

A talented fiction writer of prose … Goren’s book is riveting from the first page up to the last; the psychological lines are clearly drawn ... When the writer uses poetic language, there are lyrical pearls to be found … A fine work of art … riveting from the first page to the last.
Zo Haderekh

A profound literary experience … The humor and the irony, the conversation and the local materials, intriguing in themselves and depicted with an exotic and somewhat surprising flavor, make this an interesting read … A very likeable book.  

Ahshav

A surprising first novel … Yitzhak Goren has constructed a plot that is riveting both in terms of plot and of psychological development [and has] a delicate and meaningful structure. 
Yedioth Achronoth

One should praise Alexandrian Summer -  a book written with skill and welcome simplicity, and a good read.
Moznayim

There is something refreshing in the relaxed, satisfied attitude of Yitzhak Gormezano Goren in Alexandrian Summer, which is coming out now in a new edition. The non-traumatic approach to the pre-Israeli history is a true innovation … Beyond the enjoyment of the book itself, the re-issue of this novel conveys something optimistic, healthy, normal about the local literary scene. 

Yedioth Ahronoth; Ynet 

 

Gormezano-Goren An Alexandrian Summer
Title Alexandrian Summer
Author’s Last Name Gormezano Goren
Author's First Name Yitzhak
Language(s) Hebrew, English
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1978
Year of Publication 2 (Hebrew) 2016
No. Pages 260 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Kayitz Alexandroni
Representation Represented by ITHL

Translations

English: New York, New Vessel Press, 2015
 
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