Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol

(Author) (Translator)
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Product Details

Archipelago Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 1.7 X 7.4 inches | 1.6 pounds
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About the Author

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 Francisco Chronicle, and a Notable Book by The New York Times. Khoury's Yalo, 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.

Humphrey Davies' translations include Naguib Mahfouz's Thebes at War (American University in Cairo Press, Anchor Books) and Alaa al-Aswany's The Yacoubian Building (AUC Press). He has lived throughout the Middle East and is currently based in Cairo.


"As a teller of tales and a spinner of stories, the Lebanese author Elias Khoury is on fire in his latest work of fiction, Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol. . . Though occasionally delirious, the patter of Khoury's tangential storytelling also feels well planned, as if he were quietly and deliberately building an argument about the capacity of art to beat back the sense that history is meaningless, repeating itself dumbly. . . The countervailing effect of Khoury's novel is to show how an entire world of literary forms--from pre-Islamic poetry to proverbs, oral storytelling traditions, and the tales within tales of A Thousand and One Nights--may be the more meaningful ancient phenomenon that returns, like overgrowth in a ruin, to heal and regenerate the culture of a badly damaged place. . . All those broken mirrors and fractured stories seem not chaotic or confusing but rather strangely hopeful, as if they could one day add up to a place where people who have hated and killed one another might find that they can live together, through a war, by folding it into the stories that came before and will continue to be told after." -- Bookforum

"Within a finely rendered sociopolitical framework, Lebanese novelist Khoury (Gate of the Sum) dives down deeply to portray enduring personal pain." -- Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Reviews

"Broken Mirrors is a fascinating and trenchant literary exploration of a society at war with itself, but it is both more, and something other, than a war novel. It is an exploration of trauma, nostalgia, and the importance of the stories we tell." -- Los Angeles Review of Books

"No Lebanese intellectual has been more vociferous than Khoury in asserting the claims of collective memory... His fiction has tackled large historical subjects with a consistently inventive approach to form. And his attention to the rhythms of the oral language has given a new flexibility to literary Arabic. Khoury has not abandoned the novel's traditional strengths--vivid characters, wit, shrewd psychology--but his work is primarily concerned with the problems of recent Arab history, its ironic reversals and unrealized potential ...Broken Mirrors is a kaleidoscopic work, adopting different points of view to examine the same incidents, shuttling between past and present, mentioning people and events before the reader knows who or what they are... Khoury's novels aim to instruct as well as to entertain: they are full of historical anecdotes, curious information, and intellectual gossip." -- New York Review of Books

"[Khoury] is a writer of panoramic scope and ambition, and Broken Mirrors is rich with sly ironies, incisive political observations, and a cosmopolitan array of ideas and literary allusions." --Azadeh Moaveni, Financial Times

"By turns tender, cruel, violent, passionate, but at the same time profoundly literary." --L'Orient Littéraire (Lebanon)

"Khoury's capacious and entrancing novel, masterfully translated by the award-winning Humphrey Davies, is an extraordinary achievement." --The National (UAE)

"Khoury's narrative skills in this novel are at their peak: reading Shattered Mirror one has the impression of finding oneself in the eye of a whirlwind of a thousand tales, first glimpsed at, then shattered, then finally recovered." --Finzioni Magazine (Italy)

"In Sinalcol (Shattered Mirror), the great storyteller Elias Khoury recounts nearly fifty years of in Lebanese history in his usual eloquence" --Le Nouvel Observateur (France)

"This bounding novel by Elias Khoury is a powerful illustration of Lebanon, its history, and the intricate mosaic of religious communities and political factions that must coexist in this small country" --La Cause Littéraire (France)