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The Myrtle Tree

Authors: Jad El Hage

Published by Banipal Books

ISBN: 9780954966645

£9.99
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Young Adam Awad, his wife and daughter live in the remote village of his family, in the Lebanese countryside where his uncle maintains there are no “vendettas and bloody feuds like in the North, no history of arms and bloodshed”.

He wants to restore his father’s olive press house and live an idyllic life farming in peace, but it is 1976 and the civil war is closing in. The village becomes divided, but still Adam is determined to find a way to stop the escalation…

Jad El Hage comments: “The most recent of our wars began in the 1970s and ended by stages in the early 1990s, depending on how one defines ‘beginning’ and ‘end’. This uncertainty characterised the entire conflict. The only certainty is that we killed each other for more than fifteen years.”

Jad El Hage was born and grew up in Beirut. He has worked as a journalist since he was sixteen – with the Arab press, the BBC World Service in London, Radio Monte Carlo (Paris) and Harlequin Arab World in Athens. In 1985 he emigrated to Australia with his family. He has one novel, The Last Migration, written in English like The Myrtle Tree, and in Arabic, a novel and collections of poetry and of short stories, as well as two plays staged, with selected works translated into French, German Spanish and Dutch. He divides his time between Melbourne and a small village in north Lebanon.

Better than any political analysis, this remarkable novel, set in a Lebanese mountain village, conveys with razor-sharp accuracy the sights, sounds, tastes and tragic dilemmas of Lebanon’s fratricidal civil war. A must read… — Patrick Seale
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