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Articles tagged "Lebanese Literature"

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With practice I managed to fix stars.

From the Archives: Graphic History

With this seventh edition of our annual graphic novel issue, we've now published close to eighty graphic works. Despite the "comics" label, many of these pieces are anything but playful, as artists and writers turn to the graphic form to document painful histories both political and personal. Some of our most powerful pieces present memoirs grounded in world events, such as Zeina Abirached's autobiographical graphic novel "Game for Swallows," translated from French by star...

When did their language mingle with ours

so my brother spoke the words of the arbutus so the mother thickened her sauces with the ash tree’s black resin   The female branches made off with the laundry on our lines the young shoots leapt into our nights cracked our pavement The “wanted” poster distributed via winds and tides led to a blackbird It was he who’d set fire to the forest with a match He who’d sung Hallelujah mockingly at the old oak tree’s burial Our careful openings had...

God, the mother claimed, is behind every tree in the forest

his right shoulder lower than his left heavy with rocky snowfalls from such endurance It’s his motionless breath that fissures our walls in the night when one winter hands    power over to another The deaf bluetit’s wing-beats count for nothing nor the mother’s invectives guilty of having grouted the tiles with her tears   Yet the storm announced festive disorder erosion polished up by subtle winds Everything smiled at us and the mother who wore...

from “The Future of the Arabic Language”

What is the future of the Arabic language? Language is but one manifestation of the power of invention in a nation’s totality or public self. But if this power slumbers, language will stop in its tracks, and to stop is to regress, and regression leads to death and extinction. Therefore, the future of the Arabic language is tied to the presence or absence of invention in all the countries that speak Arabic. Where invention is present, the future of the language will be glorious...

from “A Game for Swallows”

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Zeina Abirached dodges bullets in the Beirut of her childhood

The Dragon of Rabieh

Based on actual events Inspector Sharbel Barud was picking his teeth while listening to the firemen's explanations. This case was starting to get on his nerves. For the past five days he had been spending his time visiting the inhabitants of Rabieh gathering information regarding the strange creature that was spreading panic in the upscale Mount Lebanon village once made famous by the Italian-Belgian singer Salvatore Adamo. The facts that had been established thus far were not very...

Dinner Party in Beirut

The druggist has closed up shop without a word to anyone, the scoundrel, and it's not even five o'clock. Am I to wait here on the sidewalk like this, with my legs swelling? His shutter is drawn, black, buckled, and discolored. There's broken glass just about everywhere; someone could hurt themselves. I peek inside to see if I can make something out: it's an awful mess, merchandise scattered over the floor. That man is really letting himself go. Here comes my neighbor,...

Crazy Zarifé

It was because of a star that appeared between the Great Bear and the Little Bear that the goats in a village in northern Lebanon ate the French essays of the eighth-grade primary class. Engrossed in watching the luminous point that she'd just noticed for the first time, the schoolmistress didn't see them enter her classroom, devour her pupils' work, and then bound out the window with their bellies full of words. —So much the worse for them, they'll drop their...

The Garden of the One

The snail is necessary the bindweed is necessary The cold leaves and their dew The walls too placed in the light And our hands' weaving in the light Beneath the etched white angle of the almond trees Where our stalemates sleep a while—all that Our breathing Launched into the infinite to drown itself and dissolve us Here I am. "The moon is my child" (the moon?) As it was once said My nocturnal one, so tender in your outbursts Very gently, my spouse, my daughter In...

Cadaver

I gaze at my corpse where it lies and I find myself beautiful. Beautiful as a wounded legend. Beautiful as only someone else can be. I gaze at my corpse and my corpse is a wire. I am its acrobat, its hostage. It vibrates and threatens to throw me off. I cling to it, I curse it. Then suddenly it becomes a ladder, a wrinkle, a plunge through which I don't stop calling out my farewells to all the mountains leaving without me. There will be dancing at my funeral, that's for...

A Short Description of Lebanon

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from “October 27, 2003”

come, come! a jasmine sprig behind the ear is from some declining twilight they would rather speak no more of human matters. but then stones are not much better. words, for effect, cloak themselves in Tyrien purple, and it is in the spaces that are between where the real adventure lies I close the shutters and wonder where the light has gone that was fondling the sea as we looked on it's nice being here in discontinuity, the dwelling place of birds, and being...

from “Origins”

In Origins, Amin Maalouf recounts the family history of the generation of his paternal grandfather, Botros Maalouf. Maalouf sets out to discover the truth about why Botros, a poet and educator in Lebanon, traveled across the globe to rescue his younger brother, Gebrayal, who had settled in Havana. Wednesday evening Here I am in Cuba to find Gebrayel; in my diary is his last known address: the Colon Cemetery in Havana. I know I'll recognize his residence among all the others and...

Texterminators

Introduction: War and Literature Two years ago I asked a carpenter who had done a good job for a friend to come to my home and build a bookcase that would house the many volumes scattered on the floor and under my bed for lack of space. The carpenter was a young, jovial man who enjoyed chatting when taking a break and sipping my Lebanese-Turkish coffee. Coffee encourages conversation, and each time we sipped coffee together, we'd get to know a bit more about each other. He was from...

A Happy Childhood

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“I don’t carry your picture in my purse”

I don't carry your picture in my purse; it burns anyway under my eyelids. Every expression, gesture, intonation, without my even wanting it, is etched— most clearly, your back, when you left that inexplicable May, that cruel winter, just as I directed— into the dark, to the left. Translation of "Ei kanna Su pilti käekotis." Copyright Doris Kareva. Translation copyright 2007 by Tiina Aleman. All rights reserved. Read Doris Kareva's "The...

from Yalo

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: "Yalo" is the story of an interrogation, by a nameless officer, of Daniel Habil Abyad, a young man of Assyrian Christian background who is accused, among other crimes, of raping women and robbing their lovers in a pine forest on the edge of Beirut close to the house where he is employed as a guard. From the start, however, it is Yalo, Daniel's alter ego, who asserts himself as the story's true protagonist. In part, perhaps, because of his upbringing in a...

from “White Masks”

Chapter IV: The Dog -1- There's the clatter of the ancient truck lumbering through the hazy Beirut morning, the sea, and the mingled smell of salt and fish. Sky, gray clouds and waves. Engine clacking, its wheels pitching the ruts, the truck rumbles along. Zayn Alloul is sitting next to the driver up front. Mohammad al-Kharoobi and Saleh Ahmad are suspended on two small fenders at the back-end of the vehicle. The aroma of Virginia blend tobacco suffuses the front cabin: the...

Omega:  Definitions

I am a Muslim feminist from the Fertile Crescent. I have a tattoo on my right wrist. It's of God. I designed it. Do you know where the Fertile Crescent is? One day when we were alone together Shah treated me in a way I didn't like at all. Shah means King in Persian. I don't remember the details. But it was theatre. I don't think it made any difference. I don't usually talk about my religion. Some Muslims might not accept me as one because I sometimes...

from “Nettles”

IV. At what line and on what page did they begin their emigration the mother asks herself ought one to connect it to the windows which reflect and stare at each other to the rains which jump feet together on our roof the mother had neither pencil nor blackboard to count their leaps the mother didn't know how to count she took them for cats when they were warriors they weren't warriors either but curved lines walking in their sleep Statements of small importance...

from Gate of the Sun

What should I say about Umm Hassan? Should I mention the tears, or the memories, or say nothing? Seated in the backseat of the little blue Volkswagen, she was looking out the window and seeing nothing. "We're here," said Fawzi. Her brother got out of the car and held out his hand to help her out. Umm Hassan moved her stout body forward but couldn't raise her head. She seemed unable to do so, as though her breasts were pulling her down toward the ground. She was bent over...

“God, It’s as Though You’re Sewing a Dress For a Flea”

I gather up my courage and decide to throw a "reception day" in the tradition of most wealthy, middle-class women who are proud of their lineage and upbringing, or, who are, like me, enamored with singing and with going to the movies. These women choose a weekday at the end of each month for such a day, and their friends show up dressed to the Nines, and sit around chatting, drinking coffee, and eating candied almonds and chocolate. My husband, however, did not like visits; he saw them as...

from Maryam of the Stories

The whole city gave up on sleep that night. Explosions sealed up ears and filled the city sky, turning the anticipated weekend into a nightmare. Then Monday came and the shelling calmed, so I goaded my body out of the apartment and down to the empty street. I headed in the direction of the office, not because I was expected there, but to pretend that there was still life not far beyond my reach. As I drove through deserted streets, I felt as though I was descending into a vast cavern...
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