TABLE OF CONTENTS

Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Fouad Elkoury, The Picnic, 1979, ink-jet print, 15 3/4 × 25 5/8". From the series “Civil War,” 1977–86.

IN SONALLAH IBRAHIM’S NOVEL Beirut, Beirut (1984), an unnamed Egyptian writer leaves his home in Cairo and boards a plane for the Lebanese capital. The year is 1980, and the writer has hidden a manuscript in the lining of his luggage. Detecting a lull or possibly an end to the civil war that broke out in Lebanon five years earlier (it would continue for another decade), he is traveling to see a publisher. His manuscript is politically damning and sexually daring and nobody in the Arab world will touch it—except possibly in Beirut, which is historically known for publishing books that would have been censored or banned everywhere else in the region. As soon as the writer arrives, however, he learns that a cease-fire has collapsed, fighting has resumed, and the office of his potential publisher, Adnan al-Sabbagh, has been bombed.

Newly translated into English, Beirut, Beirut

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