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Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  841 ratings  ·  208 reviews
A young Egyptian woman recounts her personal and political coming of age in this brilliant debut novel.

Cairo, 1984. A blisteringly hot summer. A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreami
Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Tim Duggan Books
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First, I won this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Thanks to Goodreads and Crown Publishing for this ARC copy.

I read 'A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to her mother's phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window' and I was immediately intrigued. I wanted to hear more of the story of this young girl growing up and the summer in Egypt, a place that has always intrigued me. I wanted to learn more of this place and how people lived there.

lark benobi
I took nearly a month to read this novel even though it's under two hundred pages. The novel was gently okay to me, not bad, but at times I felt that the simplicity of the sentences covered the story in a gauzy veil of nostalgia and even sentimentality, where I wasn't engaged either in my mind or in my heart. The choice to begin the novel from the point of view of a six year old child--meaning from her actual point of view at six, not from the point of view of a wiser, older person writing about ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.
I really wanted to like this book, really I did. I think I might have if the writing had been more than mere observation. The book spans 30 years of an unnamed narrator's life, but I never really felt as though I got to know her. I knew her routines and the people in her life, but I never truly understood her or her opinions on the life she was forced to lead. She seemed ambivalent to everything happening around her. And c
PennsyLady (Bev)
Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt (Jun 28, 2016)
by Yasmine El Rashidi

Our narrator is unnamed and this debut novel recounts three critically important summers—1984, 1998, and 2014—spent in her family's Cairo home.
Her name isn't necessary. because we're speaking of the consciousness of her generation.

We begin our view of Egypt through the eyes of a six year old in 1984.
This then proceeds as her personal familial history and a continuing vivid account of the political arena unfold.
Her pe
Carol Douglas
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yasmine El Rashidi, an Egyptian writer and editor, tells what it has been like living in Egypt under its various regime changes.
The narrator is a girl who grows to be a young woman. It's hard to tell to what extent the book is autobiographical.
She grows up in a family that used to be aristocratic before the overthrow of the monarchy and still has more money than most people. Most of the talk is about politics. Her father apparently was imprisoned for his politics, which seems to be "no one
Kathryn Berla
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I hate it when people say "I really wanted to love this book but it fell short" but that's exactly how I'll start this review. I suppose I was hoping for a modern version of "The Cairo Trilogy" by Naguib Mahfouz, which is really saddling a novel with too high expectations. For that reason, I'm giving it a 3.6 which I'll round up to 4.
The book held my interest although the choppiness of the writing in the first third made it very difficult at times to read. I know the author was trying to mimic a
Mohammed Morsi
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book. A journey into the life of an educated Egyptian under the various regimes that Egyptians had during the last few decades. In the first part, the narrative is written through the eyes of a 6 yr old which means you have to to understand the world of the adults. If you don't know the modern history of Egypt it's a good time to read up it reading this book. The book is not only about Egypt. It is also about realising one is living in a dictatorship, albeit one that allow ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This book was very well written but I think it would have made more of an impact on me if I had a better understanding of Egyptian political history.


Writing 4
Story line 3
Characters 4
Emotional impact 3

Overall rating 3.5
There isn't a language for what we are living. 79

This would be the language of chronic trauma, as universal as it is unspeakable.

With austere lyricism and meticulous detail, YER gives a sober account of the strange lassitude at the heart of the turbulent years that marked her coming of age in Cairo. Not one last summer, but three lost summers, turning points for a curious and wary child, woven in with the dramatic history of the modern Egyptian nation.

What were the chances of anyone surviving h
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I staggered my reading of this book, therefore it possibly didn't have the impact it would have had I given it a little more focused attention.
Told in three parts by a girl at 6 years old, at college, and then in her later years. Overall I found this short novel of under 200 pages, a little "too brief" in detail to give the reader a good understanding of Egypt's history and the events the book touches on.
The book overall failed to fully engage me, and didn't leave too big of a lasting impression
Jacquie (Rattle the Stars)
Stunning. Insightful. Mesmerizing. I requested this book because lately I have been reading and watching a lot about the 2011 Egyptian revolution, a topic discussed in this book. I though it would be a interesting companion piece to all of the documentaries and news articles, but it ended up being much more.

Chronicle of a Last Summer read like a memoir as it followed the coming of age of a young Egyptian girl. It's told from her point of view and it was what I enjoyed the most about this book.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, merc-2016
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I was captivated from the start. The intricate political views and opinions from the inside, the pauses of ambiguity contributed to my fascination. Purely political driven, conflicting views create interest.

Having a privileged young girl serve as narrator as she comes of age including her politics is insightful. She's observant, knows when not to ask questions, a sponge soaking in all she hears, sees and is told, she is aware of much more than reali
Tara Rock
3-1/2 Stars. Very informative as the story is told in stages from child thru adulthood by a young woman. I certainly have more knowledge of Egypt and the country's cultural and political events. Well done. ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking Bildungsroman of a person growing up in that fascinatingly scary place, Egypt. I would really like to travel there some day, but not right now. Check out some of Yasmine's journalism. ...more
Penny Schmuecker
I’ve recently read a couple of books dealing with the Arab Spring, the democratic uprisings that took place in between 2010 and 2012 in various countries throughout the Middle East. Middle Eastern politics is intriguing to me although I am a novice when it comes to understanding all the parties and groups who play such important roles in a part of the world that seems to be in constant turmoil.

When I received an ARC of Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt, I was excited to read about th
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yasmine El Rashidi's quiet and dreamy first novel is a story of Egypt's lost generation: those who were “cheated out of a life.”

El Rashidi tells her story through the eyes of a young woman in Cairo during three crucial summers of her life: 1984 (when she is six years old), 1998, and 2014. With each part, the author effectively changes the tone and style of the narration with the changes in her character's life and the volatile changes in Egypt itself. So, despite what could have been jarring ga
Kelsi H
Please check out all of my reviews at!

In 1984 Cairo, a six-year-old girl lounges around her sprawling, sweltering home, trying to understand the complexities of her parents’ relationship. As she gets older, her world broadens and she turns her attention to the city outside and eventually to the larger political world. We meet her three times, over three decades, as she grows and changes.

This is the story of a family and its ever changing dynamics – but it is a
Rachel León
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
(A solid 3, maybe 3.5 stars, rounded up because of too many low ratings)

A short but lovely literary novel about three different summers, all set in Egypt. It's quiet and won't appeal to everyone (as the low ratings illustrate) but I thought it was well done.
Ceillie Simkiss
I received a copy of this for review from LibraryThing but I'm marking this as a DNF about halfway through. The information was good, but the 6 year old narrator was driving me nuts. ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018, 20s
IQ "I came to understand from my own experience that Baba had been a victim too. They had broken him. I knew he would also never really come to terms with being absent when Grandmama died. I could see all this in his face, every singly day, the nervous tic that marked him. The right corner of his lips would turn downward for a second, pulling his whole face into a droop, before turning up again. He would then scrunch his nose, as if in discomfort, and blink. It was the kind of blink that lasted ...more
This was a short intriguing story. I came across it while wandering my library's catalog. I was looking for reading on The Arab Spring. I know the bare bones of this uprising, and hoped this book would enlighten me a bit more. This was, unfortunately, not the case.

The book is separated into 3 parts, narrated by an unnamed girl as she passes through nearly 30 years of life on the Nile, in Cairo. The narration begins in the summer of 1984 at 6 years old, jumping to college years in the summer of 1
This book has a lot of potential. I'm a little sad it's not just a draft and the finished product will be released in the future. Its bones are good, but the final product was just okay. It reads like a rambling diary. There's often long paragraphs, without even breaks for conversations. And I felt lost with the Egyptian history. I know a little modern Egyptian history, but clearly not enough based on my reading of this book. Yet the book was not so great at filling in the gaps and I did feel lo ...more
This is a dreamy, thoughtful novel about an unnamed girl who seems to strongly resemble author Yasmine El Rashidi, growing up in the years 1984-2014 in Cairo, Egypt. It's divided into three sections with each section drifting through a summer in 1984, 1998, and 2014 respectively. Throughout, the narrator observes the world changing around her.

Her family, a formerly wealthy and prominent one, has come down in the world just as Egypt has fallen to political instability, corruption, and uncertaint
Leah Rachel von Essen
I read Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi in two, quick days, in the simmering end-of-summer Chicago heat. The compact paperback with its thick pages and careful design fit nicely in my hands even as I sweated into the CTA seats on my way too and from work, the 90 degree heat seeping into the subway car. I received this book through Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Chronicle of a Last Summer is a beautifully and carefully written book that does
I have always taken a keen interest in reading about stories from Egypt, Naguib Mahfouz being the author who fascinated me in the intricacies of modern Egypt, so much more than deserts and pyramids, superimposed with the history and fantasy that I knew of. This book, which I chanced upon at a bookstore, caught my interest and with the blurb that read promising I knew I have to read it! My thoughts now that I have finished the book are scattered and I am trying to place them and piece them togeth ...more
Jennifer Collins
Sep 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Honestly, I had a difficult time reading this book, though I'd expected to really enjoy it. The author's style was off-putting, and heavy on details that contributed to setting and atmosphere, but bogged things down to the point where the story seemed almost totally overtaken by the background and politics. The subtitle here, 'a novel of Egypt', is appropriate. I hate to say it, but this felt like an autobiographical tale told simply because the author wanted to explore what was happening in Egy ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 The story started out a bit slow for my liking and I wasn't sure where it was headed, but I really liked it in the end! The book is divided into 3 sections of the narrator as 6 years old, 20, and then 36, going through all the societal and political changes that Egypt went through over the decades and how it impacted regular every day Egyptians and Egyptian society as a whole. The author's writing is detailed, but I actually admired the level of detail with everything, whether it's the det ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Egyptian history.
I'm sad to say I didn't understand the point of this novel. It chronicles three summers in the life of a girl living in Egypt. From what I can gather, there was a lot of political unrest during that time and a couple of revolutions. The narrator doesn't provide enough historical context for the reader to understand what events the book is trying to bear witness to, nor does the girl make any effort to find out what really happened. For example, the narrator describes a time when she went to film ...more
Rebecca Renner
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While the content of this novel is certainly interesting, the choice of narrator occludes important details. There is no real narrative force that pushes the beginning forward. Honestly, for such a short novel, Chronicle of a Last Summer really drags.

Time goes on, and the narrator ages, but the narration remains rather bland. For a literary novel, there is no extra special care for the detail of the prose. For me, if a novel doesn't have a strong plot, interesting characters, or stellar prose -
Debee Sue
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Great wonderful book.
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Yasmine El Rashidi is a Cairo-based writer. She is a 2015-2016 Cullman Center Fellow at The New York Public Library. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books as well as a contributing editor to the Middle East arts and culture quarterly Bidoun. She lives in Cairo and New York City.

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