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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. 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 dark as it is there is joy and insight too Rawi creates characters that you love and hate simultaneously characters you feel you know intimately one moment and yet are violently surprised by the next Complexity that both mirrors real life and transcends it Don t miss this if you re a fan of Rawi don t miss it if you ve never read him either

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Beirut Hellfire Society

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. Taking place in the midst of the Lebanese civil war in the late 70s Beirut Hellfire Society follows Pavlov the son of an undertaker After the sudden passing of his father Pavlov agrees to carry on his life s work helping an underground organization perform last rites for those denied proper burials because of their lifestyle sexuality or religion The story explores how people try to carry on in spite of the carnage around them and looks at the smaller violent feuds that arise in such an environmentI struggled a bit with Beirut Hellfire Society mainly because I was reading about soldiers and fighting and killing but I didn t seem to be feeling much of anything Rather than just assuming it was just a problem with me and my ability to empathize I realized early on that I could at least partially attribute my response to the writing Pavlov observes the terrors of war stolidly and this manner at least partially influences the way the reader experiences the story As well the imagery employed throughout came off far too light for the grisly things described a good example being long dead skeletons getting blown out of the ground by an errant bomb compared to frolicking dolphins So it seemed that the failure to evoke an emotional response stemmed from a failure of expressionBut then something changed I felt something Not something from the greater war but from the personal conflicts into which Pavlov entered This made me consider that Beirut Hellfire Society wasn t marred by a failure of expression that everything viewed as such had intent behind it What became clear upon re evaluation was what Hage wanted us to understand of living within a warzone that people become numb to the destruction in the effort to maintain some sort of normalcy within it It feels unreal like it can t touch you until you re hit with something that connects everything to you or those you love The triumph of the book is that the author doesn t just describe this but that he so effectively puts the reader in a similar mindset as he explores the ways his characters react when they get there when they truly feel the touch of the conflictJust keep in mind that if you give this book a try the subtle writing may make this some degree of inaccessible But stick with it if you do there s richness that can be found within the pages so long as you re able to be receptive to your emotions while you read

Rawi Hage ß 4 Free read

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 ceremon

  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 boo

  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

  4. says:

    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

  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 marginalized homosexuals atheists sexual deviants who were unable to receive proper burials in the midst of civil war Lebanon we are introduced to various characters whose lifestyles

  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 got a book for you

  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 undertaker After t

  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 version of Antigone se

  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 progressive countries in the Middle East Some readers will enjoy the novel for its simple but moving prose Others will relish its