Beirut Hellfire Society
“Truly a masterpiece.” —Lawrence Joseph
On a ravaged street overlooking a cemetery in a Christian enclave in war-torn 1970s Beirut, we meet Pavlov, the son of a local undertaker. When his father dies suddenly, Pavlov is approached by a member of the mysterious Hellfire Society—an anti-religious sect that arranges secret burial for outcasts denied last rites because of their religion or sexuality. Pavlov agrees to take on his father’s work for the society, and over the course of the novel he becomes a survivor-chronicler of his embattled and faded community at the heart of Lebanon’s civil war.
Praise For Beirut Hellfire Society: A Novel…
— John Williams
[A] playfully scabrous novel that draws nearly as much from Nabokov as from Lebanon’s grisly civil war.… The writing is bravura, the humor, stygian and the thrill of expression, triumphant.
— Neda Ulaby
[A] hell of a story.… Pavlov is an irresistible lead: stony, well-read, tightly controlled, with a deep well of sadness. Call him Harry Bosch but in Lebanon.
— Nathan Deuel
Hallucinatory.… [A] faceted meditation on existentialism.
— Sam Sacks
Beirut Hellfire Society crackles with the kinetic energy of a dancer.… The absurd volume of deaths is also tempered by [Rawi] Hage’s signature dark humor and stylistic playfulness.
A wild, viscerally exciting and often bleakly funny novel of ideas. Comparisons aren’t always useful, but this reviewer thought of a work… equally unflinching in its de-romanticizing of a subject most of us prefer to avoid: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Potent.… Hage’s novel is a brisk, surreal, and often comic plunge into surviving the absurd nihilism of war.
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393358223, 304pp.
Publication Date: July 14, 2020