cover image Little Mountain

Little Mountain

Elias Khoury. University of Minnesota Press, $12.95 (140pp) ISBN 978-0-8166-1770-8

This first English translation of a contemporary Lebanese writer's adumbrated vision of violent political strife and urgent nationalism makes for intriguing, highly rigorous, if not ultimately satisfying, reading. Horrors are intoned in a lyrical, repetitious chant; point of view is transient; events are ambiguous and distorted. Self-consciously formless, irreverent, ironic, disoriented and existential, the novel is a singular blueprint of a fractured, cursed homeland and Khoury's own picaresque life. Variously a novelist, journalist, translator, literary critic and book editor, Khoury recounts here his early years in the ``Little Mountain,'' or Christian East Beirut, and expulsion precipitated by his collaboration with Muslim and Palestinian nationalists; his military engagements in downtown Beirut and the eastern mountains of Lebanon during 1975, the first year of the civil war; loves (the revolutionary refers to women misogynistically) and losses; and exile in Paris. Suffused with political polemics and rhetoric, a foreword by Columbia University English professor Said places the postmodern Little Mountain in the context of the Arabic novel. (June)