15 Great Books: How Civil War (Re)-shaped the Lebanese Novel

Arabic Literature (in English)

Today marks 40 years since the start of the Lebanese civil war, which officially began on April 13, 1975, when Christian militiamen machinegunned a bus of mostly Palestinian passengers, killing twenty-seven, after fighting between the PLO and Christian militiamen earlier that morning:

The civil war — although it officially ended in 1990 — continues to preoccupy novelists, with great new books set during war-time coming out every year. The Jordanian magazine 7iber and ArabLit look back at how civil war shaped the Lebanese novel, and recommend 15 great books set just before, during, and after the war.

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The 1960s brought changes to Lebanon and countries around the world, among these a mini-renaissance in Lebanese literary writing. “There was some kind of revival,” Lebanese novelist Rawi Hage said in a 2013 interview, “and a very progressive community…formed in Lebanon, mostly around the AUB area around Ras Beirut.”

It was an era of openness…

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About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
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