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Disciples of Passion

Hoda Barakat
Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth

Cloth $19.95    |    0-8156-0833-0    |   2005

A novel by a writer hailed by the critics as "the most important woman novelist in Lebanon and in the Middle East," interweaving an account of the Lebanese civil war with a story of an illicit interfaith relationship.

"In this brief, enigmatic novel by award-winning Lebanese author Barakat (The Tiller of Waters; The Stone of Laughter), an unnamed Christian narrator tells of his relationship with a Muslim woman during Lebanon's civil war. It’s a fragmentary cri de coeur told in retrospect from the confines of a Church-run insane asylum with the menace of war still very present. . . . This is no Romeo and Juliet style romance: at times it seems as if the surrounding inter-ethnic strife is the least of the lovers’ problems, and their increasingly tormented relationship is more an embodiment of the war and alienation around them than a romantic gesture of defiance. The novel’s impassioned, poetic prose (superbly translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth) teems with strange visions, religious diction and imagery, and drifts into discursive riffs on the impossibility of knowing the ’other.’ Published by the Syracuse University Press as part of its Middle East literature in translation series, this volume seems destined for an academic audience."
dash Publishers Weekly

Disciples of Passion chronicles the civil war in Lebanon through the troubled and sometimes quasi-hallucinatory mind of a young man who has experienced kidnapping, hostage exchange, and hospital internment. As he recalls his village childhood and recounts his relationship with a woman of a different faith , his fragmented narrative probes the uncertainties of political testimonial and ascriptions of responsibility in wartime.

Marilyn Booth's fluid translation brings to an English audience one of the Arabic language's finest contemporary novelists. Widely celebrated in France, where she currently lives in exile (from Lebanon), Hoda Barakat writes from personal experience: her novels focus on the civil war in Lebanon and how it shaped the lives of people marginalized by the conflict. Compelling scenarios of war and its aftermath of suffering and destruction are integrated into subtle psychological portraitsdashwith protagonists often propelled into unexpected action.

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Hoda Barakat has received critical acclaim in the Arab world and abroad. Three of her books have been translated into French, and she was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Prizefor her novel, The Tiller of Waters, and the Al-Nagid Award for The Stone of Laughter.

Marilyn Booth is associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

5 1/2 x 8 1/2, 136 pages

Sales are restricted to U.S. and Canada

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