Harvard Square

Harvard Square

A Novel

Book - 2013 | 1st ed.
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It's the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver in a Harvard Square cafe, everything changes. Nicknamed Kalashnikov--Kalaj for short--for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student's life with his denunciations of the American obsession with "all things jumbo and ersatz"--Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets--and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. 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 on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But 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.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, c2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393088601
Branch Call Number: ACIMA
Characteristics: 292 p. ; 22 cm.

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Michael Colford Aug 30, 2014

André Aciman is a very talented writer. His latest novel, Harvard Square, is a nostalgia tale about an Egyptian man living in the States and touring Universities with his son. When visiting Harvard, he thinks back to when he was a Masters student, and a roguish cab driver from Tunisia bonded with him despite his intense, borderline sociopathic personality.

I was a big fan of Aciman's earlier novel, Call Me By Your Name, but as I read Harvard Square, I just couldn't get past the fairly repulsive attitude displayed by some of the characters. Yet as the book reached it's inevitable conclusion, it all came together beautifully, showing yet again the power of Aciman's writing. So while Harvard Square might not be a favorite, it was certainly a good read and displayed the author's considerable talents.

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megaculpa
May 21, 2014

A story about the impetuous friendships of youth and how personal growth is often accompanied by tragedy and regret. Told in the first person and probably reflecting a time in the author's own life, this novel reads almost like a memoir. Aciman's prose is stylish, yet thoughtful. Four stars.

h
HannaBanana41
Dec 29, 2013

Interesting up to point but then got kind of tedious and skipped over some.

p
paschalville
Oct 06, 2013

not a bad read.....this is the first book I've read by mr. aciman, and I'll read more. this particular novel involves a graduate student at harvard in the 70s kind of the like the book version of the movie 'argo' that replaces urgency with ennui.

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kn1226
May 28, 2014

Because 'I didn't want to forget' was the heart and soul of poetry. Had any poet been more candid about his craft?

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kn1226
May 28, 2014

Which is why he said he hated nectarines. Brugnons, in French. People were being nectarized, sweet without kindness, all the right feelings, but none of the heart, engineered, stitched, C-sectioned, but never once really born.

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