Upcoming Event

Rawi Hage

presents

Beirut Hellfire Society:
A Novel

in conversation with TEJU COLE

This event includes a book signing

Date

Sep
20
Friday
September 20, 2019
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author RAWI HAGE for a discussion of his latest novel, Beirut Hellfire Society. He will be joined in conversation by TEJU COLE, author and photography critic for the New York Times Magazine.

About Beirut Hellfire Society

On a ravaged street overlooking a cemetery in Beirut’s Christian enclave, we meet an eccentric young man named Pavlov, the son of a local undertaker. When his father meets a sudden and untimely death, Pavlov is approached by a colorful member of the mysterious Hellfire Society―an anti-religious 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 sexuality.

Pavlov agrees to take on his father’s work for the society, and over the course of the novel he becomes a survivor-chronicler of his embattled and fading community at the heart of Lebanon’s civil war. His new role introduces him to an unconventional cast of characters, including a father searching for his son’s body, a mysterious woman who takes up residence on Pavlov’s stairs after a bombing, and the flamboyant head of the Hellfire Society, El-Marquis.

Deftly combining comedy with tragedy, gritty reality with surreal absurdity, Beirut Hellfire Society 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 fable on what it means to live through war.

Praise for Beirut Hellfire Society

“[A] hell of a story. . . Pavlov is an irresistible lead: stony, well-read, tightly controlled, with a deep well of sadness. Call him Harry Bosch but in Lebanon.” —Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times

“Potent. . . Hage's novel is a brisk, surreal, and often comic plunge into surviving the absurd nihilism of war.” —Publishers Weekly

Beirut Hellfire Society crackles with the kinetic energy of a dancer. . . . The absurd volume of deaths is also tempered by Hage’s signature dark humor and stylistic playfulness.”
Toronto Star

Rawi Hage
Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s, and now lives in Montreal. He is the author of three previous novels: De Niro’s Game, which won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Cockroach, and Carnival. Beirut Hellfire Society was longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and was a finalist for Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award. Hage’s work has been translated into thirty languages.

Photo credit: Babak Salari

Teju Cole
Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Teju Cole is the photography critic for the New York Times Magazine. His work has been exhibited in India, Iceland, and the United States, and was the subject of a solo exhibition in Italy in 2016. He is the author of the essay collections Blind Spot and Known and Strange Things, as well as the novels Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, the latter of which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York City Book Award, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His photography column at the New York Times Magazine was a finalist for a 2016 National Magazine Award, and he is the winner of the 2016 Focus Award for excellence in photographic writing.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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