BOOKS IN BRIEF
men have been involved in the civil war, Luqman as an explosives expert, Najeeb as a sniper and the Albino as a torturer, but only two of them survive. The Albino, Salaam’s fiancé, is killed during the war. Struggling to adjust to normal life once peace is established, Luqman and Najeeb’s lives become intertwined with Salaam’s in their search for love, wealth and better living conditions. The novel was published in Arabic in 1999 and translated into French and Italian in 2012. Olivia Snaije, who reviewed the French edition in Banipal 44 – 12 Women Writers, said about it: “Ya Salaam! is akin to a literary horror film – each character more unsavoury than the last, wielding power, corruption and violence with gusto. [. . .] Barakat does not offer any explanations, rather, she continues her search for the answer to what she describes as the constant question that torments her: how can ordinary people fall into the most absurd barbarity and violence?” Translated by Luke Leafgren, Interlink Books, USA, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-56656-992-7, 208pp, Pbk,£9.99/$15.00 Laura Ferreri
Mansour Bushnaf’s Chewing Gum is a hilarious description of Libya’s history through a littered park, particularly symbolising the abuse of the country during Gaddafi’s dictatorship. The antihero of the story is being left by his girlfriend but remains standing in the park for a decade, hoping she will return. While some characters affected by the chewing gum craze go abroad to satisfy their needs, the girlfriend enters into various conspicuous enterprises to get hold of chewing gum. Among the characters entangled in a cobweb of people within Libya’s establishments is a Professor of Philosophy and expert on Sartre who concludes that the country has been afflicted by “a mania for the existential gum”. Everyone is chewing on something, whether gum or society issues. P.S. Libyans did smuggle chewing gum into the country when such commodities were condemned as Western commercialism. Translated by Mona Zaki. Darf Publishers, London, 2014. ISBN: 9781850772729, 125 pp, Pbk, £8.99. Aurora Tellenbach
The Confines of the Shadow, Volume I: “In Lands Overseas” by Libyan author Alessandro Spina comprises the first three novels of his magnum opus recording the history of Libya from 1911 to 1964 – seven novels and four short story collections published in one volume
BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 203
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