Faculty Book: Andre Aciman

André Aciman

Harvard Square
(W. W. Norton, 2013)
Aciman’s third and most ambitious novel is an elegant and powerful tale of the wages of assimilation—a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American. An Egyptian Jew attending graduate school at Harvard in 1977 meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj, carousing on the streets of Cambridge. As final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend. AndrĂ© Aciman is a distinguished professor of comparative literature and French at the Graduate Center.

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Submitted on: APR 12, 2013

Category: Comparative Literature | Faculty Books | French