The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol

Author: Elias Khoury

Publishing House: MacLehose Press

Publication Year: 2015

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 448

“The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol,” penned by Elias Khoury, is a masterful narrative that serves as Lebanon’s quintessential national epic. This powerful tale, crafted by one of the most esteemed contemporary Arabic novelists. It delves into the intricate themes of sibling rivalry, the scars of civil war, and the profound experience of betrayal.

The novel centers around Karim. After a decade of building a new life in France, decides to return to his native Lebanon. The country still grappling with the aftermath of a brutal civil war. The story probes the depths of Karim’s motivations: Is it the call from his brother Nasim to help raise a hospital from the ruins that draws him back? Could it be a desire to revisit past romances, or to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of his father? Or perhaps, it’s to confront the enigmatic figure known only as “Sinalcol” – a legendary ghost from the civil war days, reflecting a shattered version of Karim himself?

Upon his arrival in Beirut, Karim thrust into a world where he must navigate the complex web of relationships with former comrades and confront a brother with whom he shares a tumultuously divided past. As Karim traverses the fragmented landscape of the city, he comes to understand that peace is an elusive. Fleeting concept in a land continuously torn by conflict.

During his six-month stay, Karim reengages with his brother. Now married to Karim’s erstwhile lover, Hend, and reconnects with friends from his past life as a leftist activist known by the alias Sinalcol. His homecoming becomes an odyssey through the chaotic mix of cultural, religious, and political strife that still afflicts Lebanon. This journey compels Karim to reflect on his identity and ponder his role in the nation’s turbulent history.

“The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol” is more than just Karim’s story. It’s a tapestry woven from various narratives that together create a comprehensive fresco of Lebanese society over half a century. The novel brilliantly explores the roots of Lebanon’s ongoing civil strife and its unsettled history. Khoury’s writing marked by a panoramic scope. Infused with astute political insights, rich ironies, and a broad spectrum of ideas and literary references. The narrative’s structure mirrors the disorientation and fragmentation of the civil war. With its overlapping stories and constantly evolving perspectives. Offering a profound reflection of Lebanon’s complex and tumultuous past.

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