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Alexandrian Summer

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.

Title Alexandrian Summer
Writer's Last Name Gormezano Goren
Writer's First Name Yitzhak
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
No. Pages 260pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Kayitz Alexandroni
  • “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
  • “ 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.”

  • “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
  • “ 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.”