A tale of two Omars A memoir of family, revolution, and coming out during the Arab Spring

Omar Sharif

Book - 2021

"The grandson of Hollywood royalty on his father's side and Holocaust survivors on his mother's, Omar Sharif Jr. learned early on how to move between worlds, from the Montreal suburbs to the glamorous orbit of his grandparents's Cairo. His famous name always protected him wherever he went. When in the wake of the Arab Spring he made the difficult decision to come out in the pages of The Advocate, he knew his life would forever change. What he didn't expect was the backla...sh that followed. From bullying, to illness, to attempted suicide, to becoming a victim of sex trafficking, to death threats by the thousands, to revolution and to be never being able to return to a country he once called home, Omar Sharif Jr. has overcome more challenges than one might imagine. Drawing on the lessons he learned from both sides of his family, A Tale of Two Omars charts the course of an iconoclastic life, revealing in the process the struggles and successes that attend a public journey of self-acceptance and a life dedicated in service to others"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
Berkeley : Counterpoint Press 2021.
Edition
First hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
212 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781640094987
1640094989
Main Author
Omar Sharif (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Omar Sharif, Jr., part Jewish, part, Arab, is the grandson of celebrated Hollywood actor Omar Sharif and an actor in his own right. He is also an activist and advocate who came out as gay following the Arab Spring. Here he recounts how he grew up navigating two seemingly different and difficult worlds and struggling with his family and his ethnic and sexual identities. He uses his grandfather's inspirational, complex, and poignant advice as a guide through his life's unique challenges and shares his yearning to fully be himself while also gaining acceptance and accomplishing his goals. While becoming the person he wants to be, Sharif witnesses the onslaught of Alzheimer's on his grandfather while they're on set together for the movie The Secret Scripture, in which Sharif plays his grandfather's caregiver. "Grandfather was charming, put together, focused, and eloquent, but on set that day, he was confused, lost, agitated, and yelling at people. I was looking at a stranger and a stranger was looking back at me." Sharif survives many trials and tribulations on the way to revelation. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast, winner of multiple honors (including numerous Emmys and two Edward R. Murrow awards), and cofounder of Stand ?Up To Cancer, Couric discusses her personal and professional lives in Going There (750,000-copy first printing). The current U.S. Poet Laureate and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Harjo relates how she came to be a Poet Warrior whose verse bespeaks compassion and demands justice. As revealed in Brandon Stanton's photoblog Humans of New York—and now in The Redemption of Bobby Love—at age 14 Love was charged with disorderly conduct in the Jim Crow South, subsequently drawn into a band of thieves, and facing a 30-year prison sentence when he escaped to New York, changed his name, and led the model life of a family man with multiple jobs, church, and Little League until the FBI and NYPD came calling after decades (150,000-copy first printing). After successfully negotiating the high-risk birth of twins, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Ruhl came down with Bell's palsy—a condition paralyzing half the face—and unlike most patients did not recover quickly; Smile relates how she spent a decade searching for a cure while grappling with her suddenly inexpressive face (100,000-copy first printing). Picking up directly after Theft by Finding, Sedaris's previous volume of diaries, A Carnival of Snackery brings us up to the present (750,000-copy first printing). Told by Egyptian Canadian actor Sharif, A Tale of Two Omars relates his life as the grandson of the famed actor on his father's side and Holocaust survivors on his mother's while also reflecting on his life as a gay man in the Arab (and larger) world. Featured on the Forbes List of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East in 2014, 2015, and 2016, Wassef is the founder and manager of the Cairo-based Diwan, Egypt's first modern bookstore, which now has ten locations, 150 employees, countless loyal customers, and a book of its own with Shelf Life (25,000-copy first printing). Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

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.—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The grandson of Hollywood royalty on his father's side and Holocaust survivors on his mother's, Omar Sharif Jr. learned early on how to move between worlds, from the Montreal suburbs to the glamorous orbit of his grandparents's Cairo. His famous name always protected him wherever he went. When in the wake of the Arab Spring he made the difficult decision to come out in the pages of The Advocate, he knew his life would forever change. What he didn't expect was the backlash that followed. From bullying, to illness, to attempted suicide, to becoming a victim of sex trafficking, to death threats by the thousands, to revolution and to be never being able to return to a country he once called home, Omar Sharif Jr. has overcome more challenges than one might imagine. Drawing on the lessons he learned from both sides of his family, A Tale of Two Omars charts the course of an iconoclastic life, revealing in the process the struggles and successes that attend a public journey of self-acceptance and a life dedicated in service to others"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The grandson of actor Omar Sharif shares his struggles with the abuse and homophobia that followed his decision to come out during the Arab Spring, including thousands of death threats and bullying, as well as his journey to self-acceptance.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A powerful and essential memoir of self-discovery . . . Brimming with beautiful remembrances of his grandfather and terrifying stories of abuse and homophobia, this is an essential book that shines a much-needed light on the intersection of Arab and queer identity." —Abdi Nazemian, Lambda Literary Award–winning author of Like a Love Story, a Stonewall Honor BookThe grandson of Hollywood royalty on his father’s side and Holocaust survivors on his mother’s, Omar Sharif Jr. learned early on how to move between worlds, from the Montreal suburbs to the glamorous orbit of his grandparents’ Cairo. His famous name always protected him wherever he went. When, in the wake of the Arab Spring, he made the difficult decision to come out in the pages of The Advocate, he knew his life would forever change. What he didn’t expect was the backlash that followed. From bullying, to illness, attempted suicide, becoming a victim of sex trafficking, death threats by the thousands, revolution and never being able to return to a country he once called home, Omar Sharif Jr. has overcome more challenges than one might imagine. Drawing on the lessons he learned from both sides of his family, A Tale of Two Omars charts the course of an iconoclastic life, revealing in the process the struggles and successes that attend a public journey of self-acceptance and a life dedicated in service to others.