Broken Mirrors


Translated from by

Published: February 19, 2016



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Book Description

Karim Chammas returns to Lebanon, his family, and his past after ten years of establishing a new life in France. Back in Beirut, Karim reacquaints himself with his brother Nasim, now married to his former love Hend, and old friends from the leftist political circles within which he once roamed under the nom de guerre Sinalcol. By the end of his six-month stay, he has been reintroduced to the chaos of cultural, religious and political battles that continue to rage in Lebanon. Overwhelmed by the experiences of his return, Karim is forced to contemplate his identity and his place in Lebanon’s history. The story of Karim and his family is born of other stories that intertwine to form an imposing fresco of Lebanese society over the past fifty years. Broken Mirrors examines the roots of an endemic civil war and a country’s unsettled past.

[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...its narrative jumps about, swirls with overlapping stories and constantly amends itself, reflecting in form the dislocation of the civil war.

Azadeh Moaveni, Financial Times

Khoury’s capacious and entrancing novel, masterfully translated by the award-winning Humphrey Davies, is an extraordinary achievement.

Malcolm Forbes, The National

Within a finely rendered sociopolitical framework, Lebanese novelist Khoury (Gate of the Sun) dives down deeply to portray enduring personal pain.

Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Reviews

Broken Mirrors is a masterful achievement in form and style, moving us seamlessly back and forth in time, as it tells the story of Karim Shammas’ return to Beirut after a decade of living in France, and of his life before exile. It is a book which beautifully interrogates our past, our families, the cost of betrayal, and the difficult terrain of filial and romantic love, all inside the maze of human memory. Loss and the effects of war permeate the book’s consciousness, as does an awareness of how stories shape the world and of how, in actuality, our memories are part of the fields of our imaginations: they are the multi-faceted mirror by which we perceive ourselves and others.

Micheline Aharonian Marcom

[A] stunning literary voice of Beirut’s despair and resilience.

Public Books

A lyrical, antic, sometimes-plodding embodiment of the complications of self and nationhood.

Kirkus Reviews

A wonderful, scintillating web of a tale...superbly translated by the gifted, award-winning Humphrey Davies.

Paul Blezard, Banipal (UK)

Within a finely rendered sociopolitical framework, Lebanese novelist Khoury (Gate of the Sum) dives down deeply to portray enduring personal pain.

Library Journal

Humphrey Davies’s supple translation of Broken Mirrors appears at an opportune time for American read Khoury’s literary account of this war is to gain a deeper appreciation for the range of identities, philosophies, and political ambitions that energize conflicts in the Middle East.

Jacob Berman, LA Review of Books

Elias Khoury interviewed in Haaretz, then in Granta.

A profile of Elias Khoury in The Daily Beast.

Khoury’s 2014 lecture, “Commitment and Beyond in Modern Arabic Literature”, delivered at Brown University is available online, as is his keynote speech at the 2012 Inverted World Congress, in which he discussed the evolving politics of North Africa and the Middle East.