Harvard Square

André Aciman. Norton, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-08860-1
Aciman’s stock in trade is nostalgia. In his latest novel (after Eight White Nights), another autobiographical hero, this one unnamed, dreams of the past but desires it only as it is conjured in his memory. He looks back at himself as a navel-gazing Egyptian-Jewish Harvard grad student stuck in Cambridge during the lonely and hot, but game-changing, summer of 1977. To avoid studying, he remembers trawling the empty town, running into a Tunisian cab driver named Kalaj, short for Kalashnikov, at a place called Café Algiers. Kalaj is everything Aciman’s narrator is not: loud, reckless, and brutal, his opinions fired rat-tat-tat at anyone and everyone. But he is also a doppelganger. Muslim and Jew are both outsiders in a borrowed America, exiles with nowhere to which they might return. They become good friends, sharing the little money they earn, chasing women. One afternoon they picnic at Waldon Pond, into which Kalaj urinates, a hilariously bald metaphor. Fearing he will be deported, Kalaj struggles to resist the “ersatz” allure of an America that might reject him. Our hero is torn between the camaraderie he feels for Kalaj and his desire to assimilate. Succumbing to Kalaj’s uncompromising truths would mean rejecting the more nuanced hope that he might make a home in America without entirely belonging to it. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.