Lebanese Novelist Charif Majdalani on Médicis Prize Longlist

Lebanese novelist Charif Majdalani (also Sharif Majdalani) is on the Prix Médicis longlist for his fourth novel, Le Dernier Seigneur de Marsad (The Last Lord of Marsad):

charifThe Médicis, along with the Goncourt and Renaudot, is one of the trifecta of big French literary prizes, and was the last of the three to release its longlist, which is 13 strong.

Le Dernier Seigneur de Marsad is Majdalani’s fourth novel. The head of French literature at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut has not been a stranger to critical acclaim, and has apparently been called the “Lebanese Marcel Proust.”

This novel examines the effects of the Lebanese civil war. According to publisheres:

Beyrouth, quartier de Marsad, 1964. Simone, la fille cadette de Chakib Khattar, un notable chrétien issu d’une lignée d’industriels du marbre, est enlevée par Hamid Chahine, bras droit de son père à l’usine. Ce rapt amoureux tombe au plus mal pour Chakib, obsédé par la transmission de son patrimoine et qui, face à l’incapacité ou à l’indifférence de ses héritiers légitimes, a fait de Hamid plus que son homme de confiance : une sorte de fils spirituel. Mais l’enlèvement tourne court, après que les deux amants ont tenté de se marier clandestinement. Contraint de chasser Hamid, Khattar voit progressivement se transformer le monde autour de lui. Durant les années suivantes, le Liban s’enfonce dans la guerre, entre 1975 et la fin des années 1980. Isolé, abandonné par les siens, le dernier seigneur de Marsad est désormais au cœur des convulsions d’un pays livré aux milices et au chaos.

Majdalani’s three previous novels were Petit traité des mélanges (2002), Histoire de la grande maison (2005), and Caravansérail (2007). Other Arab authors lauded by the big three prizes include Abdellatif Laâbi, who won the poetry prize in 2009, and Fouad Laroui, the Moroccan author who was Goncourt-longlisted in 2010 and who won the Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle, the Goncourt’s short-story prize, in 2013.

The Médicis is set to be awarded on Nov. 12.

Thanks to the Literary Saloon, as always, for the news.

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3 comments

  1. Charif Majdalani is one of the most interesting writers today. His novel *Histoire de la Grande Maison* is an exquisite read. 8 years later, the book still resonates. Also enjoyed *Caravansérail*. I don’t know if he has been translated, but he should be.

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