Deb on Khoury

The December 1 issue of the Nation includes a review by Siddhartha Deb of Elias Khoury’s most recent novel, Yalo. Here is the opening paragraph:

The fragments of the past never add up to a whole in Beirut. The city seems to communicate in images rather than in narrative, presenting a kaleidoscope of car bomb assassinations and refugee camps, Israeli warplanes and Hezbollah fighters, shards that whirl before our eyes without yielding much meaning. And these pieces are only from recent years, thrown up by a city that already holds in its subterranean layers the 1975-90 civil war, with its militias and massacres, and long before that the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and colonial occupation by the French. When a writer attempts, then, to make Beirut the source of his work, one can understand why the first principle of his aesthetic is that a fragmented city demands a fragmented novel.

Aside from Yalo, Deb also covers Little Mountain and Gate of the Sun. (I reviewed Khoury for the Los Angeles Times a few months ago; if you’re curious about my take, you can click here.)