A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution, and Coming Out During the Arab Spring

Counterpoint. Oct. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781640094987. $26. MEMOIR
Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, who died in 2015, was best known for roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Funny Girl, but here we see him as the grandfather to a half-Jewish gay grandson, who is the author of this memoir, Omar Sharif Jr. It sheds light on the elder Sharif’s later years as he struggled with Alzheimer’s, but this is mostly Sharif Jr.’s story. Sharif Jr., an actor and model, discusses coming to grips with the advantages and disadvantages of his famous name and discovering a balance between two different worlds—his father is an Egyptian Muslim and his mother a Jewish Canadian whose parents were Holocaust survivors. He describes how in 2012, in the wake of the Arab Spring, he came out by publishing an article in the Advocate examining his identities as a Jewish Egyptian gay man. Death threats followed, and he feared that he would never be able to return to Egypt, but he nevertheless became an international LBGTQ advocate and made a name for himself outside the shadow of his famous grandfather.
VERDICT Though a bit dramatic at times, this book will be of interest to LGBTQ readers, celebrity watchers, and memoirs about coming into one’s own.
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