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Stuff We Love
Taleen El Gharib 25 Mar 2023

6 Lebanese Authors That Belong On Your Bookshelves

Colleen Hoover is taking over the shelves of every bookstore in the world right now, and us bookworms are quite offended to say the least. For every bibliophile that gets the ick watching 13-year-olds excitedly buying “It Ends With Us” (or any other poorly written book of hers for that matter), we thought we’d shed light on some amazing Lebanese authors (and their best works) who truly deserve the hype.

And if you don’t read Arabic, worry not because most of their works are originally written in English.

Note: Although these authors come from a generation that is focused on the Lebanese Civil War, each novel is more unique than the last as they tackle similar issues of identity, exile, and war in their own way.

1. Nada Awar Jarrar

Nada Awar Jarrar’s “Somewhere, Home” won the Commonwealth Best First Book Prize and you’ll understand why with a mere skim of the first few pages. Set in an old traditional house in the heart of Mount Lebanon, the book encapsulates the power of Lebanese history and the stories that exist in the walls of every traditional home.

With a mesmerizing writing style and attention to detail, this author focuses on the five senses and their connection to the experiences that come with being Lebanese.

2. Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage went from a taxi driver to an award-winning international novelist simply through the inspiration he garnered from his past profession, referring to a taxi as a “chamber for intimacies, lies, tension”.

His debut novel “De Niro’s Game” was inspired by the movie The Deer Hunter starring Robert De Niro (hence the title). The novel is set against the backdrop of the Lebanese Civil War, telling the story of how it shaped the lives of young lifelong friends living in war-torn Beirut.

3. Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

Another author whose heart is based in Beirut, although they reside elsewhere. Nathalie Abi-Ezzi also drew inspiration from the Lebanese experience, especially in her debut novel “A Girl Made Of Dust”.

The coming-of-age story will be a marvelous addition to your bookshelf, considering the little representation of women’s perspectives and sufferings during war. This may be a refreshing twist, as the story is told from the eyes of a young girl living in Beirut.

4. Rabih Alameddine

If you haven’t heard this name already, it’s about time you did. Rabih Alameddine became the talk of the town with his daring writing in “Koolaids: The Art of War”. A bold and heartbreaking novel on both the AIDs epidemic in the US and the Lebanese Civil War, linking these different tragedies in a (slightly confusing) non-linear narrative.

With many characters, the novel is quite rounded in its depiction of death, sex, and war as a virus. Fun fact: this is book was never translated to Arabic because of its bold narratives.

5. Patricia Sarrafian Ward

Patricia Sarrafian Ward writes about topics of exile, war, and identity and one of her more haunting writings is her debut novel titled “The Bullet Collection”.

She has published many stories, poems, and essays prior to her debut novel, which give insight into her experience as a struggling Lebanese-American (much like Rabih Alameddine, although he may not approve of using the term “Lebanese-American”—sorry, Rabih).

6. Karim Dimachkie

Finally, we have Karim Dimachkie. His endearing novel “Lifted by the Great Nothing” is a must-read, applauded for its beautifully developed characters and coming-of-age storyline.

Telling the tale of Lebanese immigrants juggling their identities as they adapt to American culture, it tells the truths and untruths of being Lebanese.