Lit & Found: Hilal Chouman’s ‘Sorrow in My Heart’

Sorrow in My Heart, recently published by Berlin-based Khan Aljanub, is the fifth novel by acclaimed Lebanese writer Hilal Chouman.

Even before the novel’s publication in Arabic, an excerpt appeared in English on Mada Masr, translated by Suneela Mubayi.

They write:

Set between Berlin and Beirut, the novel captures the bittersweet reality of post-war Lebanon, a motif that we can trace in in Chouman’s earlier novels: Stories of Sleep (2008), Napolitana (2010), Limbo Beirut (2012) and Once Upon a Time, Tomorrow (2016).  This time, the Beirut-born, Toronto-based Chouman explores the locality of Beirut, the home, from the lens of an outsider. He does this through linguistic experimentation,  where questions of identity, memory and loss are explored through fast-paced storytelling and a local tongue. In this excerpt, we present the first nine chapters of the novel. 

The translation holds the spare and haunting rhythm of Chouan’s prose, which is so often simultaneously sad and beautiful.

We went all over Berlin that night. I danced with him in two clubs. We visited bars that I had passed by but never ventured into. We smoked hash together. I tried cocktails whose names I had never heard before. And when I threw up on the sidewalk, Azo laughed and said now we were even.

Read the excerpt at Mada Nasr.