Beirut Hellfire Society
"The Beirut Hellfire Society is a short and brilliant return to the world Rawi Hage first imagined in his extraordinary, award-winning first novel De Niro's Game, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Award, an international bestseller, finalist for the Giller, GG, and Writers' Trust, and widely considered a Canadian classic. Since publishing De Niro's Game more than a decade ago, Hage has followed up with two award-winning and acclaimed novels set in Montreal's immigrant community: Cockroach (shortlisted for the Giller Prize), and Carnival (shortlisted for the GG and Writers' Trust Fiction prizes). Now, with The Beirut Hellfire Society, Hage makes a stunning and mature return to wartorn Beirut of the 1970s, during the Civil War. Our protagonist, Pavlov, is the twenty-something son of an undertaker and as such has watched funeral processions pass below his window throughout his childhood. When his father dies, Pavlov is summoned by his former teacher, Mr. Tarraff, and tasked with providing burials that, for a variety of reasons -- because the deceased is homosexual, or an outcast, or abandoned by their family, or an atheist--must happen in secret. The society that arranges such burials is a hidden anti-religious sect called the Beirut Hellfire Society. Pavlov accepts this assignment, and over the course of the novel acts as a survivor-chronicler of his torn and fading community, bearing witness to both its enduring rituals and its inevitable decline. As Hage writes: "This is my first novel in the third person. Combining tragedy and comedy, it draws together my thoughts on living through war. I am questioning the importance of what we may seek, and what we are able to preserve -- if anything -- in the face of certain change and certain death." In short, this is a spectacular and timely new work from one of our major writers, and a mature, exhilarating return to some of the themes the author began to explore in his transcendent first novel, De Niro's Game"-- Provided by publisher.
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