In the author’s first novel to be translated into English, a young Lebanese soldier, mortally wounded in the final days of the 1991 civil war, reviews his life while drifting in and out of consciousness. (Al-Daif, who is from a Christian Maronite family, is a lecturer in Arabic language and literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut.) As the nameless narrator recalls his childhood in a traditional village, his years in university, and his time fighting in the civil war, he mentally writes letters to Yasunari Kawabata, the Japanese novelist who killed himself in 1972. The topics discussed in these letters include free will, religion, various political groups, family relationships, and, finally, death. As he tells of his awareness during his conception and birth, our dying narrator also becomes aware of his death, of being placed in a coffin, and of being buried. He hears his mother’s laments as well as his deceased father’s comments. Well written in concise, eloquent prose, this poignant novel gives the reader many insights into the world of a Middle Eastern man and the many conflicts he faces while maturing into adulthood. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic collections.
DLisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.