Yasmine El Rashidi has written for New York Review of Books and other outlets about the Egyptian revolution and culture. Chronicle of a Last Summer is her first novel.
In 1984 Cairo, a six-year-old girl watches the world around her change. Her father goes away. Her mother retreats into herself. Memories take on a life of their own as her city begins to change. The book next turns to the summer of 1998, when the girl is a college student, studying film. She begins to question the world around her, and the upheaval that Egypt experiences. No one speaks of her father. She has no idea where he is, or why he left. Her cousin urges her to become involved in the political struggles, but she continues to observe as the tumult grows. Finally, the novel comes to 2014, when the girl is now a writer and filmmaker. Her father has returned, and she finds out much more about what took him away—and where he’s been. This revelation shapes her impressions of Egypt in the aftermath of the overthrow of President Mubarak.
Chronicle of a Last Summer is a quiet, introspective novel set amidst the turmoil of Egypt—a turmoil that most westerners are probably oblivious to. Thought it is a thoughtful story, instead of an action-packed one, it immerses the reader in the culture and history of Cairo with a vividness that brings the city to vibrant life.
(Galley provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley.)