Novel set in Sri Lanka
The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle
Era(s): 1980s onwards
Different from the Arab countries of the Middle East, Lebanon is a pluralistic society – 18 religious sects, a large minority of Christians. It is often seen as a ‘message’ to the possibility of Arab democratization, but it has been riven by Civil War, war with Israel and is ruled effectively by Hezbollah in alliance with Iran and Syria. Young’s book is a personal memoir of the post-2005 period in Lebanon, when the Cedar Revolution led to the pullout of the Syrian army from the country, kicking off a protracted period of domestic tension.
Young, who was taken to Lebanon at age 7 by his Lebanese mother, after the death of his American father, and who has worked as a journalist there and for American publications, brings alive life in Beirut in the crossfire of invasions, civil war, assassinations, huge rallies, secret meetings, incessant scheming and fear of all its neighbours. He knows all of the players, politicians, writers, religious leaders, some of them now dead by assassination and he explains this most poignant country, once a democratic state, that is at the centre of the world’s most dangerous neighbourhood.
As an important symbol in this troubled neighbourhood, Lebanon, once the tolerant glorious example of (almost) democratic society in an inhospitable region, represents both what might have been and what might be.
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