Chronicle of a Last Summer reads as an impressionistic memoir (though of course it’s fiction), a philosophical meditation on the nature of change and stasis, the story of a family fractured by political circumstance ... this digressive, philosophizing book takes advantage of her strengths in observation, psychological and otherwise, and in analyzing the dynamics beneath Egypt’s recent instability ... A thought-provoking story of a young writer growing up in Egypt through three summers of unrest.
This 'silence of objectivity and being an observer' informs not only the novel’s moral core but also its style, which is carefully constructed to underscore the book’s political theme ... El Rashidi portrays the city and its inhabitants with an enviable eye for detail, accurately illustrating the colorful culture and skillfully using the city’s progression over the decades to mirror the country’s political history. However, the novel’s obsessive preoccupation with politics stifles its plot ... Ultimately, the novel’s unwavering commitment to educating readers on a political history that spans decades curbs its creative potential as a work of fiction.
...Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi explore the Egyptian 'after' with all of the dizzying frustrations, contradictions, and possibilities that the post-revolutionary world affords ... Written in English, it is the first-person account of a woman coming of age in a politically fraught Egypt ...political experience in El Rashidi’s work is colored by erasure ...El Rashidi’s narrator points to the limitations of language for narrating contemporary political experience... If revolution is a grand climax, Chronicle reminds us it is forged by hot summer days, simmering anger, and monotony ... In the end of Chronicle, we are left in the Egypt of 2014, which bears a striking resemblance to the Egypt of 1984.
...[an] eloquent frist novel ... Apart from the charismatic, troublemaking Dido, these characters remain hazy and their fates unresolved. Still, Ms. El Rashidi’s portrait of the unrest in her country is brutally vivid throughout.
Sacrificing action for atmosphere, Chronicle of a Last Summer slips the reader into the experience of a world aching for change yet struggling to hold onto familiar places and rituals. While El Rashidi struggles to create a convincing childlike voice, her narrative strengthens as her heroine reveals her desires and passions as a college student and then as an artist.