Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage

Like Immigrant, Montana, this book was also a bit weird but I enjoyed it much more.  Pavlov is a 20 something son of a Christian undertaker in Beirut during the civil war in the 70s.  He has grown up assisting his father and his two uncles with funerals and even lives in an apartment that overlooks a busy funeral route so he is familiar with death.

When his father dies he is approached to carry on work his father did - cremating deceased outcasts of society - homosexuals, athiests and other outcasts.  Through his involvement in these activities we get a clear view of the impact of civil war on Beirut society - and in particular the Christians.  The descriptions of war were very detailed and compelling.  I could often feel Pavlov's fear.  It was also interesting to see war through his eyes - he knew how bad things were by the age of the people being buried.

Now Pavlov was odd - his relationship with dogs was stronger than his relationship with his family members.  And his grief over their demise seemed more impactful than his grief over losing his parents.  But despite being odd, he was interesting and I recommend reading this one.

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