Beirut Blues

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Beirut Blues is Hanan al-Shaykh's third novel. It involves a woman struggling to make sense of her life in war ravaged Beirut. It is told through the protagonist Asmahan letters, of which many may not reach their destination. First published in 1995. The English translator is Catherine Cobham.

The novel does not just depict the struggle of a woman. It is the struggle of people living the mania of the civil war. Asmahan, the protagonist, is presented as an independent woman who is even in times of war is able to sensualize the beauty of the land, the concept of home, and the country in itself. Asmahan's narration, though fragmanted, is still perceived to tie together the peaceful past of Beirut with the present war time. Al-Shaykh shows how Asmahan's character was shaped by the determince of her grandmother and the solidarity that unites people in times of war. The letters, which Asmahan writes for the people she loves and the land she carries with her, are historical documents to day-to-day experiences of people trying to communicate in this tragic period overcasting Beirut.




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