Samira Aghacy’s Writing Beirut: Mappings of the City in the Modern Arabic Novel is the latest in a cluster of academic works published since 2014 on the fiction of modern Lebanon. Aghacy reads sixteen Arabic novels written since the 1960s to explore how they critically engage Beirut. Aghacy brings together many different works of modern Arabic literature, broadly defined, with novels by young authors such as Renée Hayek, lesser-known works such as Jordanian Muʾnis al-Razzaz’s Ahyaʾ fi al-Bahr al-Mayyit (1982), or work that has not yet received much critical attention, such as Rabee Jaber’s Biritus (2005) and Sonallah Ibrahim’s Beirut, Beirut (1984). A particular strength of Aghacy’s book is her attention to representations of Beirut by non-Lebanese authors, who situate the city within a pan-Arab context and emphasize its relevance beyond its Lebanese and diasporic borders.

In her...

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