Amid war and scarcity, a determined young Egyptian pursues an education and creates a new life for his young family in the United States.
The author experienced loss early in life with the sudden departure of his Jewish schoolmates and family friends at the onset of World War II and the conflict over Israeli statehood. A Coptic Christian educated at a British private school in Cairo, the progressive young Anis quietly observed the prejudices of class and faith, from the struggles of his own proud father to the growing momentum of organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. He pursued his dream of attending medical school, and fell in love with fellow student Nadia. After years of ardent and embarrassing overtures–and while navigating intense feelings of obligation to his overbearing mother–the author proposed to Nadia. Despite hassles by inspectors looking for bribes and the encroaching war over the Suez Canal, the two managed a family and successful careers. Anis writes observantly about his time in Egypt; through peace, occupation and war, he witnessed the politics grow more radical and insular, and he was torn between his loyalties to Egypt and his liberal beliefs. When a bomb destroyed their penthouse apartment, Anis immigrated to London and eventually to the U.S. in order to shield his family from violence. In the U.S., he faced prejudice in his medical-residency programs. After inviting his aging parents to America, he was still unable to stand up to his mother, who took over Nadia’s role in their home. With insight and humility, Anis adeptly renders his frustrations as an immigrant, and his musings on family and the clash of old rituals and changing attitudes are incisive and often moving.
A smartly realized memoir presenting a poignant history of change in Egypt through the story of a man whose strength of character saw him through.