Beirut Blues

Beirut Blues

by Hanan al-Shaykh
     
 

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With the acclaim won by her first two novels, Hanan al-Shaykh established herself as the Arab world's foremost woman writer. Beirut Blues, published to similar acclaim, further confirms her place in Arabic literature, and brings her writing to a new, groundbreaking level.

The daring fragmented structure of this epistolary novel mirrors the chaos

Overview

With the acclaim won by her first two novels, Hanan al-Shaykh established herself as the Arab world's foremost woman writer. Beirut Blues, published to similar acclaim, further confirms her place in Arabic literature, and brings her writing to a new, groundbreaking level.

The daring fragmented structure of this epistolary novel mirrors the chaos surrounding the heroine, Asmahan, as she futilely writes letters to her loved ones, to her friends, to Beirut, and to the war itself--letters of lament that are never to be answered except with their own resounding echoes. In Beirut Blues, Hanan al-Shaykh evokes a Beirut that has been seen by few, and that will never be seen again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Al-Shaykh's third novel takes the form of a series of letters through which a woman contrasts Beirut's cosmopolitan past with its disastrous present. (Aug.)
Library Journal
How can one respond when home becomes unrecognizable? In her third novel (following The Story of Zahra, Interlink, 1992), al-Shaykh uses the unsent letters of her narrator, Asmaran, to explore the deep sorrows and profound transformations, external and internal, brought by lingering war. As daughter, granddaughter, lover, friend, and striking woman on the street, Asmaran reveals herself as poised yet devastated, affecting yet wounded by change and constant danger. She writes long, rambling, eloquent letters to loved ones, to Beirut, and to the war itself. Through these, the reader learns of flight and family, arrack and cannabis, checkpoints, sandbags, and ruin. Episodic and densely populated, this work is confusing but tender and memorable, a well-translated glimpse into a world most American readers can little understand. Recommended for larger fiction collections.Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
George Needham
In 10 letters addressed to the people, places, and events that have shaped her life, Asmahan, a well-to-do Lebanese woman, tries to decide whether to stay in her war-ravaged country or to immigrate to the U.S., where her mother lives, or possibly to France, new home of her friends Jawad and Hayat. But Asmahan loves her city and its people, and she cannot imagine life anywhere else. She is contemptuous of those who have left, whether they are fleeing religious or political persecution or are simply trying to find work. But the constant danger and the daily frustrations of dealing with the various militias, of not having enough food, of rationed electricity, coupled with her love for Jawad, weaken her resolution. In the final letter, she sits in the departure lounge of Beirut International Airport and weighs her decision. In this sparkling translation, Hanan al-Shaykh vividly portrays the tragedy of contemporary Lebanon in resonant human terms.
From the Publisher
"Like the best modern political novels, Beirut Blues is not a political statement, fingers are not pointed without understanding. Hanan al-Shaykh's vision is unbelieving and yet full of faith."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A warm and hauntingly melancholic new novel . . . [by] one of the most daring and controversial female writers of the Middle East."—San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

"A finely wrought epistolary novel of lament and loss that mourns the fate of a beloved city . . . lovely measured writing from a voice deserving to be heard."—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307831132
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/10/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Salman Rushdie
"Her finest novel...an unforgettable portrait of a broken city."

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