Little Mountain

Author: Elias Khoury

Publishing House: Picador

Publication Year: 2007

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 168

Elias Khoury‘s “Little Mountain,” penned during the early stages of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), presents a vivid and intense narrative through the eyes of three distinctive characters: a Joint Forces fighter, a troubled civil servant, and a complex figure who embodies both the fighter and the intellectual. This novel stands as a profound exploration of Beirut, the civil war, and the concept of fractured identity, conveyed through Khoury’s poetic and incisive language.

Critically acclaimed and recognized for its unique narrative approach, “Little Mountain” has been lauded for its insightful depiction of the Lebanese landscapes transformed by civil conflict. Edward W. Said, in his foreword, highlights the novel’s ability to unveil previously unconsidered areas of uncertainty and perturbation. Le Nouvel Observateur has praised it as the finest novel on Lebanon’s civil war, while Le Monde has revered it as not just a novel but a poem, comparing Khoury’s lucid and unflinching portrayal of cruelty to the vision of Rimbaud.

The narrative weaves through the war-torn city of Beirut, depicting a group of young Fedayin militants whose lives oscillate between love and murder, life and death. Le Monde diplomatique appreciates Khoury’s corrosive and passionate writing, bringing to life the city’s struggle amidst the chaos of war. The ‘Est Républicain commends the novel for its magnificent, allusive writing that captures the daily insanity of human existence, describing it as a plaintive, yearning prose-poem that intones the memory of a city trying to reconcile with its own destructive madness, yet fervently clinging to life.

“Little Mountain” is more than a story about war; it is a complex commentary on the fragmentation of narrative and identity. The novel’s repetitive and fragmentary style is not just a crisis of conventional storytelling but a deliberate artistic choice that bridges the aesthetic and the political aspects of identity. This narrative technique exposes the underlying aporia, or logical inconsistency, in the concept of national identity, challenging the notion of a unified, solid national collective. The trauma and disintegration experienced by the characters reflect the broader disintegration of the illusion of a cohesive national identity, making “Little Mountain” a seminal work in the literature of the Lebanese Civil War and a significant exploration of narrative form and national identity.

Read More About Elias Khoury

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