Printed in Beirut

Jabbour Douaihy, trans. from Arabic by Paula Haydar. Interlink, $15 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-62371-990-6
Aspiring author Farid Abu Shaar, the hero of this entertainingly jaundiced look at Beirut’s publishing and printing industry from Lebanese novelist Douaihy (Chased Away), undergoes a series of swift, comical, and brutal face-to-face rejections of his handwritten manuscript, The Book to Come, which is contained in a red notebook and about whose contents the reader learns nothing. At last he calls on Karam Brothers Press, whose owner, Abdallah Karam, also rejects The Book to Come but offers Farid a job as a copy editor, which he accepts. Abdallah’s beautiful and aloof wife, Persephone Melki, becomes fascinated by Farid and the notebook he always keeps with him. When Farid just once forgets his notebook, Persephone finds it and has a copy of it printed on expensive paper. That precious copy is left on Farid’s desk with no explanation, and Farid later determines that the paper is the same used to counterfeit €20 notes, and he’s swept into a police investigation. Douaihy illuminates Lebanon’s tumultuous recent history in brief but telling passages using the fates of Persephone, Farid, and Farid’s book as his compass. Bemused readers will be both enlightened and charmed. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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