Excellent & Idiosyncratic Lebanese Stories on WWB

This month’s issue of Words Without Borders is called “Turning the Kaleidoscope: Writing from Lebanon” and was co-edited by Olivia Snaije and Mitchell Albert:

It includes an excellent and idiosyncratic selection of writers, managing to capture both the expected — Man Booker International finalist Hoda Barakat and International Prize for Arabic Fiction shortlistee Jabbour Douaihy — as well as the surprising — “cult writer” Charles Chahwan, translated into English for the first time by Suneela Mubayi, and an excerpt of Le Nez Juif by Sabyl Ghoussoub, translated from the French by Snaije and Albert.

The section also includes work by two great Lebanese artists, Lamia Ziadé (whose graphic novel Bye Bye Babylon Snaije translated into English) and Lena Merhej (author of the graphic novel Murabba wa laban, which was translated to French as Laban et Confiture by Simona Gabrieli and Marianne Babut).

The six highlighted authors work in a wide variety of forms and modes, as well as two different languages, as Snaije and Albert write in their introduction:

If Lebanon can be said to be a collection of fragments that cohere uneasily, mirroring each other in unexpected ways, Lebanese literature can be called a kaleidoscope. One turn of the wrist this way or the other, and suddenly an entirely new abundance of writers comes into view, a sweeping array of cultures, politics, wars, exiles, religions—and, of course, languages: French, Arabic, even English.


An excerpt from The Night Post, by Hoda Barakat, tr. Robin Moger

An excerpt from Jabbour Douaihy’s novel Chased Away​, tr. Paula Haydar

“Fairuz in My Grandfather’s Shop,” by Lamia Ziadé, tr. Edward Gauvin

“Painful Games,” by Lena Merhej, tr. Ghenwa Hayek

An excerpt from Le Nez Juif, by Sabyl Ghoussoub, tr. Olivia Snaije and Mitchell Albert

“After Midnight,” by Charles Chahwan, tr. Suneela Mubayi