“Beirut 75” by Ghada Samman

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A book that bewitches by style and rhythm, taking us by taxi to Beirut to discover the “hellish” life that was lived there in 1974, just one year before the Civil War

None of the 5 passengers spoke to travel companions. Yasmina, Farah, Abu Mu’alla, the fisherman Abu Mustafa and Ta’an, each had sunk into his own silence; each of them was an isolated planet but they all rotated in the same orbit.

“Beirut 75” by Ghada Samman

Beirut 75

In a collective taxi taken in Damascus, the adventures of a group of occasional travel companions begin arriving in Beirut where the signs of the civil war are now clear. In the sea of daily worries, a man and a woman roam the Lebanese capital, each prey to their own phobias, aspirations and frustrations too long repressed.

Beirut 75

A trip to hell

Ghada Samman, with these 5 stories, fully shows us what life was supposed to be in Beirut in 1974, a moment of its greatest glory and at the same time the first step in a war now ready to explode. The city is in fact portrayed as a sort of “Sodom and Gomorrah“, with very strong social disparities between rich and poor and an increasingly less consideration of sex, used several times in the text as a medium of exchange.

Beirut 75
Ghada Samman

In this incredible city, as magical as it is full of pitfalls, the 3 “local” protagonists will have to fight against “historical injustices”, while the new arrivals will be bewitched and then abandoned by Beirut itself. The latter, like a tempting devil, will show the two young people the beauty of success and wealth, however causing their total inner death that will push them to actions previously unthinkable.

Unfortunately I can’t go further to avoid spoilers, personally, however, it is one of the books that I finished faster than ever, completely enchanted by prose and rhythm. Wonderful.

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