Print Review: Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt




Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt
By Yasmone El Rashidi
Penguin Random House | Tim Duggan Books
Release Date: July 28, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780770437299

  • Elegant, almost elegiac prose paradoxically reflects the disquietude of three summers of revolution in Cairo, Egypt: 1984, 1998, and 2014.

This lit-fic novel reads like a memoir owing to its powerful, spare and introspective language. We meet the unnamed-protagonist as a little girl in 1984. The household still echoes with the mother’s and grandmother’s monarchist sentiments; while the father has disappeared under mysterious circumstances under the newly elected Mubarek’s presidency. Six-years old and a student at a British school, she seeks to define the immediate world around her. In the second section, the first-person narrative continues as the now-film student bears witness to a cityscape around which the Nile, literally and metaphorically the life line of Cairo, is cut off and obscured. At a time when political dissension or compliance was self-defining, the young woman searches for her voice and identity. In the last section, The Spring Uprising has seen the resignation of Mubarek after a thirty-year reign.The protests have sparked a new sense of change, that of a dynamic and invigorating force. Coming to terms with the past, the now-fully realized adult looks to the future. Rich with descriptive and symbolic language while at the same time simple and straightforward in delivery, the internal rhythm carries the reader to another time and place, making one’s world a little bit bigger than it was before starting this remarkable debut novel.

OTHER: I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of Chronicle of a Last Summer (by Yasmine el Rashidi) through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. However, the book was released on June 28, and I received the ARC three weeks later, so I went ahead and purchased a hard copy of the book to read and review. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.