Yalo propels us into a skewed universe of brutal misunderstanding, of love and alienation, of self-discovery and luminous transcendence. At the center of the vortex stands Yalo, a young man drifting between worlds like a stray dog on the streets of Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. Living with his mother who "lost her face in the mirror," he falls in with a dangerous circle whose violent escapades he treats as a game. The game becomes a horrifying reality, however, when Yalo is accused of rape and armed robbery, and is imprisoned. Tortured and interrogated at length, he is forced to confess to crimes of which he has little or no recollection. As he writes, and rewrites his testimony, he begins to grasp his family’s past, and the true Yalo begins to emerge. Ha’aretz calls Yalo "a heartbreaking book . . . hypnotic in beauty."
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Elias Khoury, born in Beirut, is the author of thirteen novels, four volumes of literary criticism, and three plays. He was awarded the Palestine Prize for Gate of the Sun, which was named Best Book of the Year by Le Monde Diplomatique, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Fransisco Chronicle, and a Notable Book by The New York Times. Khoury¢s As Though She Were Sleeping, White Masks, Little Mountain, The Journey of Little Gandhi, and City Gates are also available in English. Khoury is a Global Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies at New York University. As Though She Were Sleeping received France¢s inaugural Arabic novel Prize. Peter Theroux is the translator of nine novels, including Abdelrahman Munif’s Cities of Salt, Naguib Mahfouz’s Children of the Alley, and Emile Habiby’s Saraya: The Ogre’s Daughter. He is the author of Translating L.A.: Tour of the Rainbow City. He has lived and traveled throughout the Middle East and currently lives in Washington, D.C.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The young man stood before the interrogator and closed his eyes. He always closed his eyes when he faced danger, when he was alone, and when his mother . . . On that day too, the morning of Thursday, December 22, 1993, he closed his eyes involuntarily.
Yalo did not understand why everything was white.
He saw the white interrogator, sitting behind a white table, the sun refracting on the glass window behind him, and his face bathed in reflected light. All Yalo saw were halos of light and a woman walking through the city streets, tripping on her shadow.
Yalo closed his eyes for a moment, or so he thought.
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