sented with many of their lies of love, there is equally a love of lies that enrich this at times troubling, at times emotionally affecting account.
Khoury demands full attention from readers. The episodic structure is so rich that it is often near opaque, so deft of touch that important strands of the story can be mistaken for light entertainment in all but focused reading. The Broken Mirrors/Sinalcol handsomely rewards those who bring commitment to its kaleidoscopic, shifting veracities and obfuscations.
As befits an author who witnessed the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, joined Fatah, fought in the civil war in 1975, was injured and who at various times lived in Jordan and France, Khoury is pitch-perfect on the plight of those who are involved in or affected by the dislocations of war. Whether describing Karim’s affiliation with the Palestinian forces of the left, Nasim’s with the Christian Phalangists, or the multiplicity of factions, divisions and allegiances that pervade the city, Khoury remains objective and rational throughout, offering a comprehensive masterclass on one of the regions most complicated and dangerous periods.
Through his portrayals of war and the periods of fleeting, fragile peace, Khoury grounds the story in the city, reminding us that Beirut is as much a mirror of it’s residents as the people are a mirror of the city, the two symbiotically interlinked. He also shows that we are the sum of the stories we tell of ourselves, whether true or false, and obliquely proves George Santayana’s oft used quote, “If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it”, an all too tragic and poignant lesson in the context of current events in Syria.
At times witty and humorous, at times bleak to the point of tragedy, The Broken Mirrors/Sinalcol saves the best till last with the revelation of Sinalcol’s identity. But to get there is a long road, a loving and uncomfortable history of Lebanon and Beirut, a cast of characters that appalls and entertains in equal measure, a central protagonist who is part everyman as he stares into the mirror of his past. This may yet be Khoury’s finest work to date, it is certainly a masterpiece of storytelling.
BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 185
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