Beirut Blues: A Novel

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Anchor Books, 1996 - Fiction - 371 pages
19 Reviews
Asmahan writes letters - to make sense of her life and to preserve her fond memories of Beirut as it existed before civil strife destroyed it forever. Evocative, sensual, funny, and poignant, the letters - which are unlikely to ever reach their destinations - conjure up, with passion and disarming honesty, a woman's life and loves in a ravaged city, as well as her sense of being a hostage in her own country. As she writes, one story grows out of another. Vividly, passionately, and yet with clear-sighted humor, she records the astonishing details of her existence, her feelings about lovers past and present, her family, her reactions to the war and its violent social and political upheavals, as well as her relationships with other women who have responded to the chaos in radically different ways. What emerges is an intimate, engaging portrait and a delicately interwoven pattern of events and characters.

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Review: Beirut Blues

User Review  - Talar Khosdeghian - Goodreads

Epistolary novels invariably produce a strange cocktail of emotions: a sense of privilege at being granted access to a person's innermost thoughts and feelings, mixed with the uncomfortable sense of ... Read full review

Review: Beirut Blues

User Review  - Matt Champagne - Goodreads

This was one of the selections in a book club I was in in the mid-nineties. I don't remember liking it so much Read full review


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About the author (1996)

Hanan al-Shaykh was born & raised in Lebanon. She is the author of three novels - "Women of Sand & Myrrh", "The Story of Zahra" & "Beirut Blues" - as well as a collection of short stories, "I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops". She currently lives in London with her husband & two children.

Catherine Cobham teaches Arabic language and literature at St Andrews University, Scotland, and has translated a number of Arab authors, including Naguib Mahfouz, Yusuf Idris, Fuad al-Takarli, Hanan al-Shaykh and Liana Badr.

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