cover image Beirut Noir

Beirut Noir

Edited by Iman Humaydan, trans. from the Arabic and the French by Michelle Hartman. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61775-344-2

Humaydan writes in her introduction to this haunting anthology that “all of the stories are somehow framed by the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from approximately 1974 until 1990.” The war’s pervasive dislocations and disruptions have a wide range of voices. In Leila Eid’s “Beirut Apples,” the narrator notes, “There was no need to count the years here... our lives were made of gunfire, random bullets shot by depraved snipers.” In Hala Kawtharani’s “The Thread of Life,” a doctor is inured to the horrific injuries he treats, until he becomes obsessed with a woman in a coma. The narrator of Zena el Khalil’s “Maya Rose” is a stillborn baby, whose soul rises above the battle-scarred land below. The crimes in this Akashic noir volume are often submerged in the greater tragedy of a beautiful city constantly torn within and without by violence. Three of the 15 selections were originally written in English. (Dec.)