Learning English

Rachid al-Daif / Translated by Paula and Adnan Haydar

‘This faultless translation should be acknowledged as one of the best Arabic fiction reads

‘A riveting interior monologue by Lebanese novelist al-Daif … a fine introduction to Arabic fiction.
Publisher’s Weekly


No matter how hard Rachid tries to recreate himself, to become educated and worldly – to ‘learn English’ – it is impossible for this young Beiruti, with his cell phone and high-speed internet, to server the connection to his past in a rural village, known for its old-fashioned clan mentality. When the news of his father’s murder – a case of blood revenge – reaches him by chance through a newspaper report, he is dragged inescapably back to that past and is plagued by the endless questions of his childhood.

With a suspense-filled plot and idiosyncratic narrator, whose bizarre stories, comical asides and uncannily perceptive comments on human nature lead us through this funny and sober book about the hold the past has on Lebanon, and on us all.

RACHID AL-DAIF was born in Lebanon in 1945 and is the acclaimed author of eleven novels, including Dear Mr. Kawabata and This Side of Innocence.

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