André Aciman is an Egyptian-born essayist, memoirist, and novelist who moved to New York at the age of nineteen. He is a scholar of seventeenth-century literature and professor of literary theory and creative writing. He earned a Whiting Writers’ Award for his memoir Out of Egypt.
“As an adolescent I read voraciously, but I read the classics only… In fact, the first time I read contemporary fiction was when I was in graduate school and picked up a book while riding to New York in a friend's crowded car; it was a spy novel by Robert Ludlum called The Scarlatti Inheritance. This is when it finally dawned on me that one couldn't write like Gogol or Stendhal or Proust in today's world, that the spirit of Classicism, which had shaped my sensibilities and which had been my escape, was simply gone. It's not that 'one couldn't' write like them; it's just that there was no place, no purpose, and no tolerance for complex, rarefied voices. So you could say that my literary apprenticeship began in a friend's Camaro. I had to learn, not how to write, but how to unwrite — or, to put it more bluntly, how to write down.”