Memories of a Meltdown: An Egptian Between Moscow And Chernobyl (Modern Arabic Writing)

In the spring of 1986, Mohamed Makhzangi was living in Kiev, an Egyptian doctor studying in the Ukraine. As a result, he–like thousands of other–found himself living a nuclear nightmare when the Chernobyl plant had a catastrophic meltdown. Despite numerous failsafe protections, human error sent massive quantities of deadly radiation into the serene spring of the Soviet sky. In superbly crafted prose, Memories of a Meltdown describes the days that followed from Makhzangi?s dual perspective, as both an outsider and a victim. Described by the author as an “anti-memoir”, this assemblage of impressions in the aftermath of the mltdown offers a searing account of factual events distilled through the filter of literature. Blending the realism of journalism with the emotional resonance of fiction, Makhzangi conveys the quiet but steadily mounting atmosphere of fear and panic, the dubious reliability of official statements, and an overall loss of the sense of safety, of anything ever being right with the world again. From the balding colleague who is concerned only about whether his hair will fall out, to a grandfather, fetching his young grandson a drink, who believes that there is less contamination in cool tap water than hot, Makhzangi portrays people unwilling or unable to believe in the magnitude of the disaster unfolding around them. In the finest tradition of literary reportage, Makhzangi masterfully conveys here the loneliness.