Elia Meghnagi

Jan 15, 2023

Escape from Benghazi

Diary of an Imposter

Vallentine Mitchell 2022

Elia Meghnagi last saw his childhood home in Benghazi when he was only seventeen. A member of the endangered and fast-shrinking millennia-old Jewish community of Libya, in 1958 Elia was forced to flee, finding refuge in Cambridge as a foreign student. Elia built a new life for himself in England, finding friends, community, love, and a career in telecomms engineering that would take him across the globe until he swapped his high-flying career for one, no less challenging, in the kosher food business. Full of nostalgia for his native land and pride in his Sephardi roots, he carries us to the sun-drenched streets of Benghazi and introduces us to its vibrant culture and history, before sharing with us the ups and downs of life as a refugee and, eventually, a citizen, in England. 

In Escape from Benghazi: Diary of an Imposter (Vallentine Mitchell, 2022), Elia introduces us to a wide array of the fascinating characters he has met, and the challenging situations he has faced. Perhaps most profoundly, in a narrative suffused with wonder and optimism, Elia shares his experience of fitting smoothly into other cultures while never compromising on his own religious principles or practice.

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Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

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