“Beirut 2020. Diary of a collapse”: the memory of chaos

Delivered. Few of Charif Majdalani’s novels do not begin in the Lebanese mountains, his favorite place. And although Beirut 2020, just awarded the special Femina jury prize, either a test, it is no exception to the rule. Moreover, we can read it as a continuation of The Emperor on foot (Threshold, 2017). A splendid fresco in which the novelist retraced, from the beginning of the twentiethe century until the waste crisis of 2015, socio-economic changes in the country, the rise of business, but also the degradation of nature and this mountain, symbol of a disfigured identity.

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All things that we find in this diary of a collapse that the writer began in July when the population, morally exhausted by an unprecedented economic crisis and the inertia of a puppet government, was about to experience new containment. Memorialist of a society plagued by amnesia, Charif Majdalani wanted to document this period of dereliction by giving to understand and see from the inside a country which, for thirty years, has been the “The preserve of the ruling oligarch caste”.

In a few pages as enlightening as they are scathing, it goes back to the genesis of this second collapse that it dates from the end of the civil war (1975-1990). Everything goes: transformation of the militia leaders into “politicians”; setting up of a gigantic system of embezzlement of funds allocated to reconstruction through dubious auctions, false invoices, slush funds; confiscation by the oligarchs of the administrative apparatus of the state; establishment of a “mafia-type relationship” with citizens.

Dereliction and self-therapy

With political reflections from which the cold anger of the writer and the citizen springs, his doubts, his fears about the future, his anxiety are interwoven. With small touches streaked with humor and creaking irony, he adds the description of a chaotic and rickety daily life: prices which panic at the mercy of the currency rate, recurring breakdowns due to a symbolic electrical system. among all of the general bankruptcy of a “Rogue state”. But also “things seen” in the streets or the demonstrations in which he participates.

Intimate, this diary is, in its own way, in that it allows us to perceive the moral and psychological impact of this dereliction on human beings. As such, it is necessary to read the extracts, given by the author, of the self-therapy undertaken by Nayla, his psychotherapist wife, to overcome the feeling of suffocation caused in her by the agony of her country and “Indifferent arrogance [des] leaders “.

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