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

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"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 Book The grand "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 Book 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’ 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.


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"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 Book The grand "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 Book 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’ 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Loughran

    This is an important read, and one I highly recommend. Omar Sharif Jr. laid himself completely bare in this memoir, opening up entirely. He shares details of his upbringing, his relationship with his parents, the most difficult times in his life, and of his advocacy work for LGBTQ rights. While it's obvious from the book that Omar comes from enormous wealth, and it can be quite overstated at times with talk of Hollywood, private nannies, and the world's most exclusive restaurants, I still felt I This is an important read, and one I highly recommend. Omar Sharif Jr. laid himself completely bare in this memoir, opening up entirely. He shares details of his upbringing, his relationship with his parents, the most difficult times in his life, and of his advocacy work for LGBTQ rights. While it's obvious from the book that Omar comes from enormous wealth, and it can be quite overstated at times with talk of Hollywood, private nannies, and the world's most exclusive restaurants, I still felt I could relate to his story in a more down to earth manner. His prose is vividly descriptive, taking the reader to wherever he is at the particular moments he discusses in the book. He does so with such accuracy at times that I feel as though I could be seated next to him, even in the most tragic of situations. While it might seem from the outside that he lives a life of luxury with access to all the things in the world, it seems it couldn't be further from the truth. I believe what he seeks most, is acceptance. I found parts of the book difficult to read for a few reasons. Mostly because I couldn't imagine what it was like for Omar to go through what he did, which you'll read about in the book. I was shocked at some points, my heart dropping to the pit of my stomach. But despite it all, he seemed to come out stronger, at least on the outside. I appreciated reading about the work Omar is doing when it comes to advocating for the rights of others, despite not initially being accepted by the LGBTQ community. He was facing death threats from Egypt then told by the queer and activist communities, “He’s just privileged, what could he know about struggle or sacrifice?” Reading this memoir, I was able to see that despite his privilege, he has suffered just as much as anyone who identifies as LGBTQ and struggles to come out. Despite all of this, I believe he has done what he can for LGBTQ rights in Egypt, and is still fighting for his own freedom and the freedom of others. This memoir truly broke my heart, but also inspired me greatly. It's my hope that one day things will change in countries where people are forced to hide in the closet, where they seek nothing but freedom and the right to be who they are. Avocado Diaries

  2. 5 out of 5

    CrabbyPatty

    Growing up the beloved grandson of Omar Sharif and living a life of privilege would be an entertaining tale on its own, but Omar Sharif, Jr. poignantly and beautifully writes here of his struggle as a half-Jewish gay man in Egypt, and his continuing work for LGBTQ rights. He also shares some terrifying situations that are difficult to read, but his strength and continuing advocacy are inspiring. 4 stars. I received an ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    W.

    Two things first attracted me to this book ; the gorgeous cover and the name Omar Sharif. A name , that since I was a teenager (30 years ago) evoke , in my mind , one of the most attractive , virile , human male specimen of all time. A Tale of Two Omar is an interesting and very intimate story of growing up in a culture and world were your life and sexuality has been pretty much planned out from the start. I enjoyed reading it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I was riveted by Omar’s account of his still young life and look forward to what he still has to offer the world.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Goldberg

    Couldn’t put it down.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    I enjoyed and admired most of this book (and would read it again), but the experience was destroyed when in the final chapter and epilogue the author defends the bullying & violence of organized LBGT groups. It's shocking that a man who spends most of the book telling us over and over that he has been bullied, violated, and discriminated against then thinks it's okay for gays to bully, harm, and show intolerance toward those they don't agree with in order to "live their authentic lives." So a ma I enjoyed and admired most of this book (and would read it again), but the experience was destroyed when in the final chapter and epilogue the author defends the bullying & violence of organized LBGT groups. It's shocking that a man who spends most of the book telling us over and over that he has been bullied, violated, and discriminated against then thinks it's okay for gays to bully, harm, and show intolerance toward those they don't agree with in order to "live their authentic lives." So a man who wants to push his political and personal views on others doesn't want to give the same rights to those who have opposing views. While my heart goes out to him for what he has been through, he has a giant "hypocrite" stamped all over this book. Add to that the fact that he was raised by rich, famous people and literally had everything paid for by his family. He travels the world without personal cost. He has his housing and education paid for even as he is a full-blown adult. He doesn't understand what the common man goes through, nor seems to have empathy for the rest of humanity that has been mistreated or bullied for other reasons. His focus is totally on getting his sexual choices accepted by everyone, everywhere, without regard to accepting others for their backgrounds or beliefs. I wish he spent some of his energy and money on the people of the world who have other often worse misfortunes. That being said, at times in the book Sharif is the most balanced wacko activist there is. Because he is half-Muslim, half-Jewish (while he ignores the fact that his famous grandfather was raised Catholic), he at least accepts multiple worlds, as long as those worlds reflect his own. He makes statements I have never heard anyone in the gay community make, risking being rejected by those from within, and for that I'm an admirer. But that's just one side of the two Omars. Some of the stories are fascinating. He makes some incredibly profound insights. But it's difficult to get beyond the fact that he's an elitist who knows all the criticisms against him but rejects them all. He has a gigantic ego, telling us throughout the book how great he is and how everyone loves him, and is permanently destroyed by any minor criticism. Trust me, after reading this book all of the criticisms are true. The man really needs some self-awareness. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing who claims to be a man of peace and brings people together, yet he advocates for destruction and rejection of any ideas that could possibly be considered anti-gay or unaccepting of anything radical gay rights groups stand for. When will those in the activist LGBT community understand that they are doing the very things they complain others are doing to them by being intolerant bigots advocating violence against those who don't agree with them? Hypocrites of the highest order. I'd be curious of Sharif, who isn't an American but is from Canada and lived in other Middle Eastern countries, also stands up against the horrible human rights violations against Christians in those countries (including Canada). I doubt it. If he is seriously about his standing up for ALL human rights then he needs to expand beyond the narrowness of his own experiences. There really is a tale of two Omars--the one who thinks he's the world's savior, and the other who does the very devilish hurtful things he accuses others of.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Peters

    Omar Sharif, Jr. grew up under the shadow of his world-renowned grandfather, an acting legend and a hero in his home country of Egypt and beyond. The fact the younger Omar is gay will likely be sufficient to pique interest in his memoir from LGBTQ+ readers, and being in the closet, living a double life, and coming out are indeed major themes. More than that, Sharif has a heart-rending and at times surprising story to tell about how he became a global spokesperson for tolerance and intercultural Omar Sharif, Jr. grew up under the shadow of his world-renowned grandfather, an acting legend and a hero in his home country of Egypt and beyond. The fact the younger Omar is gay will likely be sufficient to pique interest in his memoir from LGBTQ+ readers, and being in the closet, living a double life, and coming out are indeed major themes. More than that, Sharif has a heart-rending and at times surprising story to tell about how he became a global spokesperson for tolerance and intercultural understanding. Read the rest of my review at Out in Print.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    A Tale of Two Omars by Omar Sharif Jr. is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September. Opening with Omar Jr's coming out in 2012 and exile from Egypt, his grandpa, Omar Sr, is a very suave, extremely intelligent, gambling, worldly man, let alone a great actor, before descending into Alzheimer's and enduring forgetfulness, mood swings, and silent confusion, while Omar Jr serves as his occasional assistant/caregiver. It offers beautiful, intuitively descriptive prose, sunny and free with m A Tale of Two Omars by Omar Sharif Jr. is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September. Opening with Omar Jr's coming out in 2012 and exile from Egypt, his grandpa, Omar Sr, is a very suave, extremely intelligent, gambling, worldly man, let alone a great actor, before descending into Alzheimer's and enduring forgetfulness, mood swings, and silent confusion, while Omar Jr serves as his occasional assistant/caregiver. It offers beautiful, intuitively descriptive prose, sunny and free with memories while living and travelling all around the world, yet weighted with grief and fear, as he becomes guarded and wounded from the threats over being gay.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Wajcer

    A brave and personal memoir. I found it a very interesting and an emotional read. So sad to learn about the struggles of being gay in Egypt and so sorry to read about the horrific experiences that Omar Jr suffered. So very admirable that Omar Jr chose to advocate for LGBTQ rights! A captivating book! Bravo Omar!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holden Wajcer

    What a great read! Very inspirational, especially for those who have similar truths buried within and need to muster the courage to be their authentic selves. Omar jr. found a way to do that and hopefully others will follow.This story has all the elements of an exciting film and who better to play the leading role but Omar jr. himself!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Wajcer

    A fascinating and honest telling of a Story worth reading. I was interested not only in the story of a famous heartthrob but also in the story of his grandson whose life has had an unusual path. I appreciate the openness of the younger Sharif as he has navigated some rough waters and at a relatively young age. His story should continue to be told. I highly recommend this book

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Worth reading, especially for the final chapters when Sharif writes eloquently about the need to mediate between extreme points of view. Earlier I was less enamored of his writing style while describing his childhood and teen years.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shá

    There seemed to be parts that were a bit vague and not quite adding up, but given the timeline, I assume this was due to safety concerns about retaliation. I'm glad to see he's shared his story and I'm hopeful that he's able to find a true career he enjoys, not just being handed down. There seemed to be parts that were a bit vague and not quite adding up, but given the timeline, I assume this was due to safety concerns about retaliation. I'm glad to see he's shared his story and I'm hopeful that he's able to find a true career he enjoys, not just being handed down.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nathalie Lessard

    Absolutely loved it !

  15. 5 out of 5

    Levine Penny

    “A very honest read filled with some humor, some danger, lots of vulnerability, affection and gravitas. A finely written memoir”.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Picking up this book, you recognize the name of one of the greatest actors of the 20th century and one whose name is featured in famous films like Lawrence of Arabia and Hidalgo (the two films that first came to mind for me personally). Then, you realize the name continues and the book actually includes the perspective of Omar Sharif’s grandson, the junior recipient of his name. This book tells the story of both individuals from the perspective of someone who lived in the later years of Omar Sha Picking up this book, you recognize the name of one of the greatest actors of the 20th century and one whose name is featured in famous films like Lawrence of Arabia and Hidalgo (the two films that first came to mind for me personally). Then, you realize the name continues and the book actually includes the perspective of Omar Sharif’s grandson, the junior recipient of his name. This book tells the story of both individuals from the perspective of someone who lived in the later years of Omar Sharif’s life and as someone who simultaneously lived at the intersection of two worlds without giving up either. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Selim

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yosef

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Levenbach

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Vatch

  21. 4 out of 5

    Annette Atsmon

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom O’Leary

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bette

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  28. 4 out of 5

    marguerite sherman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Messodie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bruno Darío

  31. 4 out of 5

    José

  32. 5 out of 5

    Luke

  33. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  34. 5 out of 5

    Brett

  35. 5 out of 5

    David J

  36. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kifah Arif

  38. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  40. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  41. 4 out of 5

    Kelsi

  42. 5 out of 5

    NJ

  43. 4 out of 5

    Mhairi Munro

  44. 5 out of 5

    Arya

  45. 4 out of 5

    Loni

  46. 4 out of 5

    Katey

  47. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Griesinger

  48. 4 out of 5

    Sheherazade

  49. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Matos

  50. 4 out of 5

    Faye

  51. 4 out of 5

    Sondos

  52. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  53. 4 out of 5

    Megan (Best of Fates)

  54. 4 out of 5

    Jody KL

  55. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  56. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

  57. 5 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

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