In most of his previous fiction and nonfiction writing, André Aciman constructs himself as a permanent exile, challenging Ammiel Alcalay’s claim that the Levantine Jewish experience gives the lie to the “modern myth of the Jew as pariah, outsider and wanderer.” Yet in his recent novel Harvard Square, Aciman approaches an affirmation of a very different kind of Levantine Jewish identity, exploring what Alcalay has called “the relationship of the Jew to the Arab within him- or herself” (28), and suggesting the possibility of a genuine homecoming for the Levantine Jewish self. Through his portrayal of the conflicted friendship between a diffident Egyptian-Jewish Harvard graduate student and a voluble, undocumented Tunisian cab driver, Aciman explores how his Jewish narrator, seeking to “pass” in America, simultaneously embraces and rejects his Arab double. In a counter-factual, hypothetical move at the conclusion of his narrative, the narrator confesses his love for the double, though the fact remains that he has, in truth, rejected and abandoned him.

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