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Yalo was a soldier on one of the many sides in Lebanon’s sectarian civil war, before becoming a deserter and a thief, a nightwatchman in Paris, an arms smuggler, and then a rapist. And then he falls in love with his victim – who turns him in to the police.

This novel is a modern Thousand and One Nights, a series of confessions extracted under torture, a recitation of all of his memories, all his sorrows, all his guilt – and of the other crimes his interrogators have him confess to. Beirut and the legacy of the wars of the Middle East are the texture of Elias Khoury’s extraordinary literary achievement.

Reviews

'A highly compelling performance, presented in beautifully crafted, often lilting prose... This novel is about a corrupted individual in a corrupting time, but it speaks of and to us all' Guy Mannes-Abbott, Independent.
Independent
'A curiously mesmerizing novel … an ambitious piece of work … It would be hard to think of a more worthwhile endeavour for fiction to embark on' James Lasdun, Guardian.
Guardian
'Los Angeles has Joan Didion and Raymond Chandler, and Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk. The beautiful, resilient city of Beirut belongs to Khoury' Laila Lalami, Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles Times
'A dizzying journey into the extremes of human experience - into intense sensuality and stomach-turning violence' Adam Lebor, New York Times.
New York Times