Yalo by Elias Khoury

Elias Khoury is one of the foremost living Arabic writers originally from Lebanon ,his has taught widely at universities in the US ,His fist novel was Published in 1975 ,His books are mainly about his homeland and its political systems and struggles .YALO was publishes in 2002 in arabic and translated by Humphrey Davies .We met Yalo a young man under arrest by the Lebanon police authorities for a suspect robbery and rape on his love Shireen ,as it opens he is under integration to unnamed integrators ,we get to hear his sad life story over and over ,it dribbles ont in dream and nightmare like snippets what lead him to committing the crime he is accused of we follow the from start to finish ,your are left to really decide what happens and are given an insight in to the brutal tactics used by the police ,also how suppressed Yalo was growing up within a worn torn city and on the back streets of this city .The only bright spot in his horrendous life is a short amount of time he had spent in Paris but even then he is on the run and had to be rescued to get back to Beirut by an arms dealer .Now a review of the book it is compared to Kafka and yes it is like a modern “the trail” complete with twist sub plots ,dead ends and constantly twisting story of Yalo seems very real thou . but with a full 18 rating ,this confessions is drawn out by blood and bruises.

Yalo didn’t understand what was happening .The young man stood before the interrogator and closed his eyes ,which is what he always did .He closed his eyes when facing danger ,he closed he closed them when he was alone ,he closed them when his mother ….on that day to the morning of 22 december ,1993,he closed his eyes involuntary .Yalo didn’t understand why everything was white .

The opening of Yalo where your straight in the heart of the story .

This book highlights the brutality of the Lebanese police and the political system .Khoury has always court controversy with his ability to lift the lid on his homelands many and complexed stories and politics ,a country that spent many years war-torn and still has to come to terms with it especially in the book which is set in the early 1990’s ,this is an engrossing but not an easy read but you reap the rewards of finishing it ,a modern Arabic classic .The book is Published By quercus and is out in paperback earlier this year .

this is the first of my summer arabic reading challenge..

Winston score –

Rattler live in hot places twists and turns and packs a hell of a bite Just like Yalo .

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rob
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 21:30:15

    Full marks for finishing this one Stu. I got to about 80 pages and called it a day. Definitely nothing wrong with the writer, and certainly nothing wrong with Davies’ translation (I quite like his work). I just couldn’t attach myself to it.


  2. Iris
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 09:01:06

    I am not sure that this is the sort of book I could deal with..

    I’m curious to see which other books you’ll read for the Arabic challenge!


  3. Trackback: Another Book-Challenge Review: Yalo, by Elias Khoury « Arabic Literature (in English)
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June 2010


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