I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
A young Egyptian woman chronicles her personal and political coming of age in this debut novel.
We meet her across three decades, from youth to adulthood: As a six-year old absorbing the world around her, filled with questions she can’t ask; as a college student and aspiring filmmaker pre-occupied with love, language, and the repression that surrounds her; and then later, in the turbulent aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, as a writer exploring her own past. Reunited with her father, she wonders about the silences that have marked and shaped her life.
Chronicle of a Last Summer is very unique to read, possibly because it is Egyptian fiction (and the author herself is Egyptian). It’s writing is very interesting, different, but I actually liked it, and the story is fascinating.
It’s written in first person through the eyes of a young woman, and because its first person, she never addresses her own name, not even when other people are talking to her, making it a lot like a mysterious diary. The dialogue is captured in italics rather than quotation marks and it is written in such a way that the author never needs to put in the phrase “he said”. There are absolutely no indications of who is saying what, yet we know without a doubt who is saying what and in what tone they are using. Like I said earlier, it is very different than anything I have ever read, but it was a good kind of different.
As for the storyline, I eventually lost interest in it and just put it down because it was so repetitive and I couldn’t get into it, I made it about halfway. The content up to that point however was relatively clean only saying the word “bu**er” (which has the same meaning as our “f” word in European countries) twice and a brief one sentence mention of a lesbian couple who are relatives of the main character.
So even though I was relatively pleased with the writing style, I, personally, wasn’t impressed with the storyline and therefore can only give it 3 out of 5 stars, because there are others who will find this title more fitting to their preferences.
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