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Rawi Hage ð 4 Summary

E poetic originality” Boston Globe and “uncompromising vision” Colm Tóibín asks What after all can be preserved in the face of certain change and imminent death The answer is at once propulsive elegiac outrageous profane and transcendent and a profoundly moving meditation on what it means to live through war. This review originally appeared in BookBrowse JournalIn Beirut Hellfire Society Rawi Hage creates a dance that is savage devastating tender mournful and darkly wickedly humorous The novel is loosely a modern day version of Antigone set during one year of the Lebanese civil war Rather than a sister intent on burying her brother the protagonist Pavlov lover of Greek mythology and culture is the son of an undertaker following in his father s footsteps in his pledge to lay to rest those who have been denied a traditional burial The story interweaves vignettes of an outrageous cast of characters complete with talking dogs and ghosts vicious gangsters cross dressing hedonists and a niece who howls like a hyena with Pavlov s journey to survive and wrest meaning from an existence in which war continuously tears apart the fabric of life order and meaning Hage writes with the incendiary passion of someone whose early years were shaped by the war that tore Lebanon apart between 1975 and 1990 In this work life cannot be taken for granted from one minute to the next streets are a chaos of rubble and destroyed buildings the falling bombs are as omnipresent as the rain Since childhood Pavlov has watched the parade of caskets that winds toward the cemetery beneath his window Death and life form a continuous dance that his father teaches him is forged in fire With sparse urgent and wounding prose Hage lays bare the nature of war and its human conseuences The book is as he states in the acknowledgements a book of mourning but it is also a book of hope Beneath the despair Hage shows us that hope and life always smolder waiting to be kindled

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Beirut Hellfire Society

After his undertaker father’s death laconic Greek mythology– reading Pavlov is approached by a member of the mysterious Hellfire Society an antireligious sect that among many rebellious and often salacious activities arranges secret burial for outcasts who have been denied last rites because of their religion or. I am ambivalent about this book I thought the writing was great and the individual episodes describing the complexity of beliefs and attitudes as expressed by the many characters in this story was fascinating And the setting during the Lebanese civil war with the constant violence and threat of unexpected death due to bombings and gunfire was horrifyingI ve decided however Rawi Hage s work is not really for me This is the second book by him that I ve attempted and the only one I ve finished The book is really good but I don t think I m the right audience for his work

Summary Beirut Hellfire Society

Sexuality Pavlov agrees to take up his father’s work for the society and over the course of the novel acts as survivor chronicler of his torn and fading community bearing witness to both its enduring rituals and its inevitable declineIn Beirut Hellfire Society award winning author Rawi Hage praised for his “fierc. Now the man told his son you re sixteen old enough to become a member of the Society The Hellfire Society the father added He switched on the car radio and drove towards the coast and then up into the mountains of Lebanon In the prologue to Beirut Hellfire Society an undertaker introduces his teenaged son Pavlov to a secret crematorium in the mountains surrounding Beirut burial is the only officially sanctioned method for cadaver disposal although both the Christians and the Muslims of the city deny it to their outcasts and as the book begins it is several years later the father is dead and Pavlov is enlisted to take over the work of cremating the atheists hedonists homosexuals and other undesirables of the community Having grown up in a house beside the Christian cemetery Pavlov has spent his entire life watching parades of mourners go by from an upper balcony and as the city s civil war escalates this is the 1970 s and as the priest leads an unending stream of mourners for dead militiamen to their gravesites Pavlov starts to suffer from mounting nihilism Just what is the point of this war What is the point of life itself Told in short episodic chapters we are introduced to a wide variety of characters with only a couple of threads stretching throughout the whole book and written in Rawi Hage s typically lyrical and engaging style I immensely enjoyed this return to the world of Hage s knockout debut De Niro s Game I was struck by the short uirky observations Women in black gowns dragged their ponderous heels on the unpaved road and men in sombre colours shortened with their breath white cigarettes trapped between their scissor like fingers and lead filled teeth I was intrigued by the details that Pavlov observes from his balcony pallbearers dancing with the coffins of unmarried young men to give them a combination weddingfuneral the ironic dangers of having a funeral parade as bombs are falling all around the dwindling availability of pallbearers as the young men die off Christians emigrate and family lines are extinguished And I was enchanted by longer passages and their mixed imagery about the banality of constant warfare Poor terrestrial dead Pavlov thought miserable cadavers confined to their rectangular demarcation They have to endure the crushing weight of the earth and the bird s eye view of apathetic gravediggers pouring earth into their eyes He hurried back home lit a cigarette and stood on his balcony He inhaled and exhaled with force and bade farewell to the smoke on this day of light rain and blossoming trees and the shameless appearance of flowers pink pirouettes exuberant with scent and colour that mingled with bullets falling from weapons in the hands of fighters wearing cheap white sneakers with green rubber soles made in China In the main part of the book the stream of people with alternative beliefs and lifestyles who come to Pavlov s door to prearrange their own cremations demonstrates the Beirut of the time to have been a safe haven for intellectuals Bohemians and sexual adventurers Yet in a modern day epilogue when Pavlov s heir moves into the family home overlooking the Christian cemetery the now Muslim dominated neighbourhood isn t uite so tolerant of Westernised values So what were all those young men fighting and dying for during Lebanon s civil war This article in Maclean s points out the book s key inspiration from an interview with Rawi HageIn the epilogue when the story moves briefly to the present Beirut Hellfire Society s underlying connective thread a kind of geocultural determinism becomes fully visible Pavlov s half Swedish great niece comes upon the scene and starts to morph into Pavlov Yes it s a story about families and lineages says Hage that asks how people are transformed by their geographies How important is it to stay in one space Maybe we should all become wanderers I just don t know And based on that information I reckon this is the key passage from the book itself These few left over Christians in the Middle East should leave the Bohemian said They should leave this land and spread out all over the earth The world is vast and these early converts are holding on in vain to their mythologies religion and a handful of picturesue valleys and mountains Who and what are they fighting for They should leave Leave this country to the Muslims and then the Muslims will leave it to someone else one day I have never understood attachments to land and culture Look at them sliding one coffin after another into the pit They wasted the little life they could have had elsewhere They were never tolerated and they tolerated no one The Gods of these lands are cruel jealous petty and archaic These converts should leave and roam the planet There s plenty to think about here and with scenes and language that consistently intrigued me I found this rather non traditional novel to be thoroughly captivating


10 thoughts on “Beirut Hellfire Society

  1. says:

    A book about the randomness of whistling bombs destruction and death in 1978 Beirut A father tenderly guides his son Pavlov through the ceremonies of cremation for all those the state denies a burial in consecrated ground an

  2. says:

    Ahhh Rawi Hage He's just on another level This surpasses Cockroach as my favourite of his books caveat I've never read Deniro's Game I loved the endless ways he created to approach death violence family sex hate dance in this book I like my books dark and my themes intricately explored and this is that And as da

  3. says:

    I am ambivalent about this book I thought the writing was great and the individual episodes describing the complexity of beliefs and attitudes as expressed by the many characters in this story was fascinating And the setting during the Lebanese civil war with the constant violence and threat of unexpected death due to bombings and gunfire was horrifyingI've decided however Rawi Hage's work is not really for me This is the second

  4. says:

    Now the man told his son you're sixteen – old enough to become a member of the Society The Hellfire Society the

  5. says:

    I was a big fan of Hage's DeNiro's Game and had high hopes for his new release While conceptually it was super intriguing Hage doesn't execute it as well as I had hoped Following Pavlov a son of a dead undertaker who serviced the m

  6. says:

    I wanted so much from this bookIf you like needlessly explicit descriptions of eye rolling male fantasies a main character who does nothing and yet muses on about the world because he read a bit of philosophy years ago I feel like we all have someone like this in our life and a plot that goes no where well have I

  7. says:

    The description of this book seemed so promising – it’s a story about the son of an undertaker who after his

  8. says:

    Taking place in the midst of the Lebanese civil war in the late ’70s Beirut Hellfire Society follows Pavlov the son of an undertake

  9. says:

    This review originally appeared in BookBrowse JournalIn Beirut Hellfire Society Rawi Hage creates a dance that is savage devastating tender mournful and darkly wickedly humorous The novel is loosely a modern day

  10. says:

    For those who understand the civil war in Lebanon Rawi Hage's latest novel Beirut Hellfire Society brings very special meaning Its hero Pavlov is the antithesis of the sectarianism that destroyed one of the most

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.