Harvard Square

Harvard Square

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
WW Norton
André Aciman has been hailed as "the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty-first century" (New York magazine), a "brilliant chronicler of the disconnect…between who we are and who we wish we might have been" (Wall Street Journal), and a writer of "fiction at its most supremely interesting" (Colm Tóibín). Now, with his third and most ambitious novel, Aciman delivers an elegant and powerful tale of the wages of assimilation—a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American.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 café, 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.Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds. It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.
A powerful tale of love, friendship, and becoming American in late ’70s Cambridge from the best-selling novelist.

Baker & Taylor
An Egyptian-Jewish Harvard graduate student trying to assimilate into American culture in 1977 befriends an impetuous, loud Arab cab driver and must choose between his dream or his friend in this new novel from the author of Call Me By Your Name.

& Taylor

An Egyptian-Jewish Harvard graduate student trying to assimilate into American culture in 1977 befriends an impetuous, loud Arab cab driver and must choose between his dream or his friend.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393088601
Branch Call Number: FICTION ACIMAN 2013
Characteristics: 292 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

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.

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.

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.


Add a Quote

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?

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.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ELPL

To Top