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Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt Paperback – February 14, 2012
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"Jean Naggar’s memoir Sipping from the Nile brings the world of Egypt’s privileged class to us like a Downton Abbey set in Cairo. This is history told with the fluidity of poetry, the sensuality of life, and with empathy that resonates from an extended family determined to survive upheaval." -Emily Rubin, author of Stalina
“An intriguing way of life that no longer exists. Glamorous, exciting, filled with the sophisticated life of a Jewish family living in Europe and the Middle East, Naggar documents times of elegant lifestyles, to the tumultuous struggles of war. The book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of homes, meals, glamorous clothing and social events while living in Egypt, later on in England, and finally in New York City. The history of this extended family is a most interesting look at a loving, religious, educated culture. And like every family, there is passionate love and loss, but always there is the undercurrent of delight and an indomitable will to do more than just survive.” -US Review of Books
“In elegant prose and loving details, Jean Naggar has written a poignant memoir of an idyllic childhood in Egypt, her family’s politically fueled exodus from that paradise, and the forging of a new life in America.” –Hilma Wolitzer, author of Summer Reading, The Doctor’s Daughter, and Tunnel of Love
About the Author
Her poetry has been featured in The Listener and Athanor. She has been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Publishers Weekly, The Huffington Post, and Writers Digest. Jean is a member of the International Women's Forum, the Women's Media Group, PEN, and the AAR. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Serge Naggar, and is the mother of three and grandmother of seven.
More About the Author
After graduating from London University Jean (Mosseri) Naggar met and married Serge Naggar, the "boy next door" and followed him to New York City where she has lived ever since. A voracious reader all her life, she wrote poetry which was published in The Listener and Athanor, translated books, and her work was published in the New York Times, the Village Voice and Publishers Weekly.
In 1978 she founded the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (see www.JVNLA.com)and was responsible for bringing many iconic writers to the attention of the reading public, happily sharing her reading passions with the world. She is a former president of AAR and has been sought after as a speaker at events around the US. Mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven, she is at last exploring her childhood dream: to write.
Visit her at http://www.jeannaggar.com/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jean-naggar/egypts-forgotten-jews_b_2235098.html
Top Customer Reviews
The title comes from the tradition that if you sip from the Nile before leaving, you will one day return. I love the final two lines: "The past is never gone. It is the foundation on which we build the present, every day of our lives." How perfectly they tie into those first words, the title, since being transported into that time is indeed sipping from the Nile. Jean Naggar leaves us with the hope that we will always be able to revisit the past through memory, enriching our present with each sip.
That being said, this is one of the most tedious and boring books I've ever read and should have been titled "Dispatches from Egypt by the Rich and Famous". Less than 10% of the "memoir" is devoted to the exodus out of Egypt during the Suez crisis, and during that year or so, the violin lessons continued, more designer dresses created, while this family tries to decide which of their precious possessions can be packed and carried out of the country, while still worrying if their servants would "murder them in their sleep".
There is not one word mentioned in this book about the perils that the ordinary, just trying to survive, Egyptians faced, just page after page of the wonderful food, wonderful clothes, wonderful friends, fancy schools not located in Egypt where this family got the majority of their education. And to add insult to injury, this family's passports were all from Italy.
What a total waste of time and money trying to plow through this book that isn't even written well. It jumps from one decade to another, one relative to another without any rhyme nor reason. Save your time and money on this one.
On the one hand, the book offers the reader an outline of the history and the achievements of these prominent families and a glimpse into the conditions in which they lived.
On the other hand, at least the first half of the book is an excruciatingly detailed account of the privileges that these families enjoyed: very large houses in Cairo and Alexandria, summer vacations in Switzerland, boarding schools in England, etc, etc. This is all fine and amusing, but only if the author shows any empathy towards the ordinary Egyptians that her family lived amongst. Any at all.
This self-absorption and total lack of compassion is singular given the hardships that her own family exprienced in the 1950's when things went totally wrong. I would have thought that the deprivation that at least some of her relatives came to experience post-1956 would have made her understand the anti-European feelings of many Egyptians pre-1956 that eventually lead to the personal tragedies that took place.
I do not condone what happened in the 1950's, and I am not saying that any of it was excusable. In fact, I firmly believe that too many innocent people, including the writer and her family, were treated very badly and suffered totally unnecessarily. I only wished to read any indication of understanding of the reasons why things went wrong and/or an acknowledgement of the fact that ordinary Egyptians were discriminated against and had the right to be resentful.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderfully clear-headed memoir, written with humor, sensitivity, and a clear eye, telling a well-know story about people forced to leave everything behind, lucky to escape with... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Michele Tolela Myers
Very informative memoir of life in Egypt during a tie of upheaval. An unusual perspective.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Naggar presents an in-depth look into her early life in Egypt. The narrative is somewhat disjointed, but I feel she attempts to describe what a protected life she lived unaware of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol Smith
An excellent book, describing not only intestesting and different places, ways of living in those places, people and their perceptions of their own lifes and others and how they... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sandra Giuria
Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to tell you that I spent the last few weeks with the author and her family back in Alexandria, Cairo. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Avraham Bar-Av (Bentata)
Such a fascinating piece of history, told from one woman's perspective of her life in Egypt, Europe and America. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Meghan H.
It was a great book to put one to sleep. It was unclear what the author wanted to tell her readers. It is a series of memories only interesting to those family members who were... Read morePublished 4 months ago by delores alcazar
I thought the book was very well written and very interesting. She has a long family tree and history of very influential people. I enjoyed it very much. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
This book gave a good picture of life in Egypt for a fairly large family. They obviously were pretty well-off since they had servants. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joyce Mayden