A complex thriller, The Mehlis Report introduces English readers to a highly talented Arabic writer. When former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is killed by a massive bomb blast, the U.N. appoints German judge Detlev Mehlis to conduct an investigation of the attack — while explosions continue to rock Beirut. Mehlis’s report is eagerly awaited by the entire Lebanese population.
First we meet Saman Yarid, a middle-aged architect who wanders the tense streets of Beirut and, like everyone else in the city, can’t stop thinking about the pending report. Saman’s sister Josephine, who was kidnapped in 1983, narrates the second part of The Mehlis Report: Josephine is dead, yet exists in a bizarre underworld in the bowels of Beirut where the dead are busy writing their memoirs. Then the ghost of Hariri himself appears…
One of the greatest narrators on the Arabic scene.
At forty-two, the winner of the ‘Arabic Booker’ is it youngest recipient, and the judges praised the novel ‘for its powerful portrayal of the fragility of the human condition in highly sensitive prose.’
Like several of his other books, The Mehlis Report is held together less by its plot or characters than by its uncanny way of capturing the zeitgeist. It reads like a historical novel that happens to be about the very recent past.
—The New York Review of Books
This novel — this elegy for a lost Beirut, past and future — this novel was carrying me to a place I had never been before.