Have you ever been overcome by memories of a more vivid time in your life? The author, Andre Aciman, while taking his son for an interview at Harvard College, is overcome by a wave of nostalgia for his own Harvard experience. He is suddenly a young immigrant from Egypt studying for his PhD in 17th Century literature and feeling very isolated in America.
His life changes one day when he overhears a conversation that erupts into the café where he is studying. In rapid- fire style the speaker takes on all manner of topics: men, women, rich, poor , American jumbo- sized breakfasts and huge steak dinners and all-you-can-eat salads, perennial tans, and one-size fits all, poly-reinforced clothes. He is Kalij, a fellow North African who drives a cab and whose opinions are like spat-out bullet shells dealing with capitalism, communism, liberals, conservatives, all countries and religions but with particular emphasis on his conflicted relationship with American values and consumer culture. He is also facing possible deportation from this country he has such a love-hate relationship with.
What to do with such a friend? The author decides to just go with the friendship and enjoy the ride. As it turns out, both Andre and Kalij need each other and the intense summer relationship forms their unforgettable bond. The book vividly takes us on an unforgettable ride.