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Hellfire and redemption

Rawi Hage returns to the wartorn city of Beirut in his latest,philosophically rich novel

FICTION

* Beirut Hellfire Society

Rawi Hage

Knopf Canada

“THIS IS A BOOK of mourning for the many who witnessed senseless wars, and for those who perished in those wars.” So writes Rawi Hage in the acknowledgements to his fourth novel. Death is front and centre in Beirut Hellfire Society, but in Hage’s rendering it is as sensual as it is senseless; this new work of fiction extends the streak of absurdity that runs through the author’s previous three books.

As with Carnival(2012), which follows a taxi driver who experiences the world through encounters with denizens of the urban underclass who are his passengers, and Cockroach(2008), told through the eyes of a despairing thief in Montreal, people who exist on the fringes are at the heart of Beirut Hellfire Society. More pertinently, this book marks Hage’s return to wartorn Beirut, the setting of his 2006 debut, De Niro’s Game (one of only two Canadianauthored novels to win the prestigious International Dublin Literary Award).

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