photo of André Aciman

André Aciman (Photo: Sigrid Estrada © 1999)

With Out of Egypt, André Aciman established himself as a sharp, humorous, and often heartbreaking chronicler of bygone eras. Crowded with charismatic and eccentric relatives, the 1994 memoir portrays life in Alexandria through the year 1965, when the last members of Aciman’s family fled the country. It puts forth motifs—memory, loss, and longing—to which Aciman returns over and again in subsequent work.

Now Aciman has ventured into fiction. His first novel, Call Me by Your Name, follows Elio, a 17-year-old Italian Jew, as he falls hard for a visiting American graduate student named Oliver, over the course of one passionate summer. Though the novel might seem like a departure from Aciman’s earlier work, it is in fact a variation on his favorite theme: longing.

Aciman talks with us about the origins of the story and about what it’s like to write a gay erotic romance with your wife and sons down the hall.