Jabbour Douaihy’s /Rain of June/ ‘Cries out for an English Translation’

So says National writer Michael Young, who recently finished reading the book:

In 2006, the Lebanese author Jabbour Douaihy published Rain of June, which was later short-listed for the [inaugural] Arabic version of the Booker Prize. The book has received recognition outside the Arab world, particularly in France and Italy, and now cries out for an English translation.

Young gives a brief summary of the central historical element of the plot (an armed dispute in and around a Lebanese village church that left 24 dead) and then notes the complications of the author’s multi-layered involvements: He is a Douaihy, one of the families involved in the violent dispute; he was encouraged to write it by close friends from the opposing families in the dispute.

However, like with Elias Khoury’s recently released (in English) White Masks, which also discusses the war in Lebanon, ultimately June Rain finds that no blame can be apportioned:

So, what we have is Mr Douaihy implicitly encouraging the elucidation of historical memory as a means of coming to grips with the past, even as his characters are adrift in a sea of ambiguity, quite incapable of doing so.

I’m not sure Young has convincingly made the case for translating June Rain into English, but from the French review in Etvdes (please correct my translation): “Despite its length and a denouement that leaves one unsatisfied, June Rain is a novel which one can not fail to recommend.”

Also read:

From an interesting 2008 interview with Douaihy in Now! Lebanon: “Where to escape? Just as everybody expects a Palestinian writer not to handle any other subject but his relationship with his homeland, with impossibilities and agony, it is expected of a Lebanese writer to revolve around the themes of the everyday happenings of civil conflict. Still, a lot of novelists try to avoid writing directly about the war, but no one can escape the presence of the civil struggle in the background. The struggle, being on the verge of falling into an abyss, and trying every morning to look out for the possibility to fix some destruction of our public concerns – it became a lifestyle. So this instability haunts our writings in spite of us.”

If you read French, you can check out reviews of June Rain from the French press.