Anti Lebanon (Book Acquired, 3.07.2013)

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Dipped into this one this morning—first chapter—and so far so good: Carl Shuker’s Anti Lebanon is simultaneously weird and very readable, a mix that reminds me very much of William Gibson. Great cover too. Full review to come, but for now, here’s publisher Counterpoint Press’s blurb:

It is the Arab Spring and the fate of the Christians of the Middle East is uncertain. The many Christians of Lebanon are walking a knife-edge, their very survival in their ancestral refuge in doubt, as the Lebanese government becomes Hezbollah-dominated, while Syria convulses with warring religious factions. Anti Lebanon is a cross-genre political thriller and horror story embedded within these recent events, featuring a multiethnic Christian family living out the lingering after-effects of Lebanon’s civil war as it struggles to deal with its phantoms, its ghosts, and its vampires.

Leon Elias is a young and impoverished Lebanese man whose older sister had joined a Christian militia and has been killed. He becomes caught up in the recent “little war” in Beirut, when the Shi’a resistance/militia Hezbollah takes over most of the city. In this milieu—the emptied streets of Christian east Beirut, the old shell-scarred sandstone villas, the echoing gunfire—he becomes involved, only partly by choice, in the theft of a seriously valuable piece of artisanal jewelry, and is bitten—like a vampire—by its Armenian maker.

Events take a ghostly and mysterious turn as the factions jostling for power in Beirut begin to align against him and his family, and he is forced to flee the sullied beauty of that wonderful and pitiful country, in this story of love and loss, of the civil war and the Arabization of the “Switzerland of the Middle East,” and of contemporary vampires—beings addicted to violence, lies, and baser primal drives.

Carl Shuker is a remarkable writer. A storyteller in the tradition of Celine and J. G. Ballard, no one alive writes better sentences. Anti Lebanon will delight his fans and entrance anyone new to his fine work.

 

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