cover image Confessions


Rabee Jaber, trans. from the Arabic by Kareem Abu-Zeid. New Directions, $15.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2067-5

One day in 1976, Maroun, the narrator of this moving short novel from Lebanese author Jaber, is shot and wounded on the demarcation line that divides Beirut. A small child at the time, Maroun loses one family but gains another. "My father used to kidnap people and kill them," Maroun says in the arresting opening sentence about the man who adopts him. This new father has been committing these crimes ever since the murder of his little boy, whose bloody corpse with its tattered clothes was "dumped on the road between the Museum and the H%C3%B4tel-Dieu." Maroun grows up in a Beirut where war is almost a constant between 1976 and 1990. His untrustworthy memory and his place in his new family are ever-present concerns in a tortured tale that reveals the amazing ability of people to carve normality out of the most extreme and brutal conditions. Jaber sketches many memorable characters, none more unforgettable than his forever unsettled narrator. (Mar.)