Beirut Hellfire Society:
in conversation with TEJU COLE
This event includes a book signing
September 20, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
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 writing professor at Harvard.
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.”
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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