The American Quarter

Publishing House: Interlink Books

Publication Year: 2017

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 208

Jabbour Douaihy‘s “The American Quarter” nostalgically celebrates Tripoli, his youth’s city along Lebanon’s northern coastline. The narrative unfolds amid the U.S.-led Iraq invasion, focusing on Ismail, a young man leaning towards extremism. Intertwined with his story are his father Bilal, a massacre survivor; his differently-abled brother under his care; his resilient mother Intisar, upholding the family tradition in the influential Azzam household; and Abdelkarim, the Azzam son yearning for a Polish ballerina and appreciating opera.

Douaihy artfully crafts these characters with irony and affection, aligning Ismail’s fate with the dwindling American Quarter’s aspirations and the struggles of those navigating war-torn landscapes. Ismail’s preordained mission reflects universal quests for redemption, especially when confronting elements that swiftly erase cherished possessions.

Paula Haydar’s masterful translation turns “The American Quarter” into a contemporary classic. Beyond honoring an aging city and its inhabitants, the novel provides a nuanced perspective on current challenges to tolerance and trust, skillfully presented by an accomplished writer.

In delving into Nizam’s life, Douaihy guides us through the labyrinth of ostracization, displacement, and violence faced by an outcast in society. Nizam, akin to the elusive fireflies of his youth, symbolizes hope for those embracing complex, non-binary identities. Douaihy provocatively asks: How long can this delicate beacon of hope endure?

Read More About Jabbour Douaihy

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