Chair: Valerie Monchi
Out of Egypt (1994) is André Aciman's richly coloured memoir chronicling the exploits of his flamboyant Jewish family from their bold arrival in Alexandria in 1905 to their defeated exodus three generations later. Farewell, Babylon (1980) is Naïm Kattan's acclaimed narrative of his childhood in Baghdad in the 1930s and 1940s.
In this session, André Aciman and Naïm Kattan, the authors of these two outstanding memoirs, explored ideas of exile, loss and identity with writer, Valerie Monchi. They discussed what makes it possible to create a new life in another culture and how the quest for memory can help us choose who we want to be.
André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1950 and now lives in the USA. His book False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory (2000) led one critic to call him 'our contemporary Proust.'
Naïm Kattan was born in Baghdad in 1928 and emigrated to Montreal in 1954. Novelist, essayist and critic, he is the author of more than 30 books, translated into several languages.
Valerie Monchi was born in Paris and has embraced Iraqi, Jewish, French and British cultures, not necessarily in that order. She is a writer and on the board of Prospect magazine.
In association with the B'nai B'rith Leo Baeck London Lodges