25 December 2007

Martin Malone, The Broken Cedar, 2003

Khalil is not a bloodthirsty extremist, he’s a dying old man from South Lebanon with a guilty conscience, in his younger days having taken part in the hanging of an Irish UN peacekeeper. Now many years later, the Irishman’s son arrives to bring the body home, and calls on Khalil to help find the grave. One of those books you have to stick with as it takes plenty of time to get going, but Malone takes you ultimately to where you didn’t expect the heart of the matter to be. A very good character portrait of the dying Khalil, and also very believable in its portrayal of how the Lebanese are forced daily to deal with the legacy of their own civil war. A knowing and quietly impressive book.   PY

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