In her mirrors
| Laha maraya
Dar al-Adab, Lebanon, Beirut, 2010, 292 pages
The president is dead and the capital hesitates between fear and mourning. At the same time, Said the president’s ex strong man is in his hometown. He follows the funerals on TV, and worries for his future. Miles from him, Laila, freshly released from jail, comes into the city. Weakened, turned down by all, she still thinks of him, Said, her powerful lover. How could he have left her in jail all of these years?
This book is the narrative of the multidimensional passionate love story between Laila and Said. Laila is the grand daughter of an Alaoui leader who resented the way some Alaouis brutally got to power. She has grown with her grand father’s religious and mystical beliefs, based on re-incarnation. In this perspective, it is not she, who was drawn to her family’s enemy, Said. Their story is transcendental. It is the repetition of a previous passionate love story, started at the times of the persecution of the Alaouis. Each of these love stories, of which she has been aware since her very early age, is marked by death and violent seperation. As if their two passionate souls were doomed.
Once again, Samar Yazbek gives her novel an almost mystical dimension the ambiguities of which provide the narrative with thickness and characters with psychological depth. Laila’s passion determined by history may either be the result of her clairvoyance, or the consequence of her sick mind. In either case, Laila floats above ground; a poetic butterfly, crushed by the tremendous love of a ruthless man and destiny.
Once again a free woman, Laila can only think of going to Said and confront him. Will they meet again? Will she love him? Will she kill him and let him die under the blade like he has in their previous lives? These burning questions drive the reader through the story. The novel’s narrative spans from the morning of Laila’s release to the next, as she heads to her old lover.
Yazbek’s detailed writing and the specificity of her descriptions convey powerful emotions that characterize this modern Greek tragedy, set on a historical and esoteric fascinating background.
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Italian, acquired by Castelvecchi (to appear)