Printed in Beirut
Jabbour Douaihy; translated by Paula Haydar
published 2018 • 5.25" x 8" • 224 pages
ISBN 9781623719906 • paperback • $15.00 •
“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.”
A DAZZLING MYSTERY SET IN THE WORLD OF LEBANON’S BOOK PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
Farid Abou Cha’r arrives in Beirut on a hot summer morning with his manuscript, looking for a publisher. He is turned down by all of them—“nobody reads anymore,” he is told. Instead, he accepts a job as a proofreader at the famous old print house “Karam Bros.,” allegedly established in 1908. Disappointed by the menial tasks of checking catalogs and ad copy, Farid secretly hopes that his book will eventually be published. His manuscript never leaves his side until one day it disappears and then reemerges, beautifully printed. Farid soon realizes that the expensive paper it’s printed on is the same that the company is using to manufacture fake twenty-euro bills, and that the person who printed the book is none other than his boss’s wife. Entangled in a police investigation and an illicit flirtation, Farid discovers that the Karam Bros. print house is not what it seems.
Douaihy dizzies the reader with an intricate play of appearances and deception, and as always, portrays Lebanese society with exquisite irony.
Jabbour Douaihy is a celebrated Lebanese novelist born in the town of Zgharta, northern Lebanon, in 1949. He holds a PhD degree in comparative literature from the Sorbonne and works as a professor of French literature at the Lebanese University. He has published seven works of fiction, including June Rain, which was shortlisted for the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008 and The Vagrant, shortlisted for IPAF in 2012. The American Quarter reached the IPAF long list in 2015. Paula Haydar is Clinical Assistant Professor of Arabic at the University of Arkansas. She holds a PhD degree in comparative literature and an M.F.A. degree in literary translation. She has translated numerous novels by contemporary Lebanese, Palestinian, and Jordanian authors. Her translation of Lebanese novelist Jabbour Douaihy’s June Rain was selected as the highly commended runner-up of the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation and also made the Daily Star’s list of Top Middle East Novels of 2014. Her translations of Lebanese authors also include three novels by Elias Khoury (Gates of the City, The Journey of Little Gandhi, and The Kingdom of Strangers) and three novels by Rashid al-Daif (This Side of Innocence , Learning English, and Who’s Afraid of Meryl Streep?). Her translations of novels by Palestinian writers include Sahar Khalifeh’s The End of Spring and Adania Shibli’s Touch (Interlink). Her most recent translation is What Price Paradise by Jordanian writer Jamal Naji.
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