Days in the Diaspora: An Egyptian Novel

Kamal Ruhayyim

“How could a good Muslim boy like you be born into a Jewish family!” For Galal, forced to leave Egypt in the 1960s Jewish exodus with his family, the Diaspora has none of the beauty of a rich tapestry of history; it is a day-to-day struggle to fit into his new life in Paris, reconcile the conflicting demands of family and friends, and come to terms with who he is. The quest for belonging and identity is at the heart of this sensitive and tender narrative. Earthy, rambunctious supporting characters burst from the page, spontaneous, emotional, yet, for all their façade of confidence, no less adrift than Galal himself. Ruhayyim’s Paris of the 1960s is startlingly relevant: then, as now, religion offers an illusory source of community and identity for migrants to the west, not fitting in, yet cut off from their roots. Deeply personal, this unusual, uplifting coming-of-age novel takes us into the heart of an ordinary young man in the grip of an unforgiving historical moment.

The American University in Cairo Press 308 pages

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