Alexandrian Summer by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren
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A Bittersweet Love Song to Jewish Alexandria
Lost Egypt comes alive in Yitzhak Gormezano Goren’s 1978 Hebrew idyll ‘Alexandrian Summer,’ in a first English translation
Alexandrian Summer is a nostalgic, farewell portrait of a world that was fast expiring but still refused to see that history had written it off. The outward signs were deceptive enough to placate everyone’s worst fears: money, beaches, tennis, races, gambling, servants, friends, visits, outings, sugary delights; the whole fabric of day-to-day life smoothed over by that invigorating source of nattering called gossip, guile, and more gossip.
This, after all, was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-sexual, multi-everything society where Coptic, Jew, Muslim, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox lived tolerably well together and where multilingualism was the order of the day. Everyone was part Levantine, part European, part Egyptian, and one hundred percent hodgepodge, just as everyone’s sentences were spiced with words and expressions lifted from French, Italian, Arabic, Ladino, Turkish, Greek, English, and whatever else came by. Tart-to-toxic bons mots in a mix of six to eight languages could singe you just enough to shake you up but without causing any damage.