A piece for Annahar English on the August 4 blast in Beirut - published September 2020
It’s been over a month, and the blast has sunk into our skin, permeated our pores, crawled into the corner, an uninvited guest we mindlessly feed our stale grief.
It is a multi-layered thing: the cataclysmic explosion, its searing aftermath, muscle memory triggered by the pop of a balloon at a birthday gathering that was meant to evoke some semblance of normalcy. It is an efficient executioner: three or four cozily co-habiting generations felled under each roof, family histories and homes telescoping and collapsing into the dirt.
It is the residue of thousands of hearts splintered, hundreds of bones broken, dust we still find in dark corners of rooms we thought the reverberations hadn’t reached. Fine, powdery glass glinting on the sidewalk, ground into the asphalt by people desperate to keep up the pretense of going about their lives. It is the indignity of trees that have bowed down, violently shedding their leaves, disowning summer.
It is the dichotomy, the duality, the unholy mirroring of teenagers dug up from beneath rubble their classmates scoop up with shiny new shovels. Of wounded doctors treating the wounded masses. Of teary-eyed residents telling their stories to teary-eyed journalists. Of people trying to start new lives amidst death, babies born under scattered debris, wedding dresses fluttering like white flags of submission. It is volunteers surging through blood-spattered neighborhoods like blood re-oxygenating atrophied limbs.
It is the atrocity, the avoidability of it all, the apathy that rings louder in its murderous indifference than the explosion that decimated half a city. It is the altruism of strangers, the heroism of neighbors lifting each other up onto broken backs and shoulders when they have been so brutally let down.
It resonates, the relentless echo of horrors counted and recounted in infinite patterns, yet everyone looks the same in their grief, their rage, their helplessness, their stoicism. It revisits, a shadow across each sunset, a breath involuntarily caught at 6:08 every evening.
It is one heart, one month on, still beating, faintly flickering under the wreckage, a testament to a collective spirit that will not be broken.
One of my favourite bars in Gemmayze, Electric Bing Sutt, 8/8/2020. Photo credit: Racha Mourtada
Size does matter in these tiny tales populated with narcoleptic drivers, bickering backers, suspicious spouses, and other memorable characters.
Full of dark humor and absurdity, this book delivers a bite-size reading experience to satisfy any literary craving.
June 2nd, 2020
I am happy I took the opportunity to read these. They all leave you wanting more, yet they are neatly tied up in a 55 word bundle. They're a little dark, a little weird and a lot of fun.
- Jenni on Goodreads
Each story is 55 words or less, and frankly that is the perfect amount to tease your brain into wanting more, yet being satisfied that you just read a perfect story with no unnecessary filler, no lulls in development, or anything else you can think of. Only perfection. Well, slight lie-I wanted more stories!
-Ginny on Goodreads
at the same time making sure that it does not lose its poignancy. Each story in 55 Slightly Sinister Stories is only 55 words long, yet the stories are still amusing, inspiring and thought provoking. This is a mighty task to accomplish in just 1 or 2 short paragraphs.
-Kylie on Goodreads
It reminded me of something by Alvin Schwartz. Super odd and only a little sinister - just the way I like things.
-Michelle on Goodreads
I'm already thinking of ways I can incorporate it into a lesson to demonstrate to my students that imaginative writing needn't be lengthy or a full blown narrative. Well done, Racha!
-Paige on Goodreads
where each story is only 55 words long and accompanied by a themed illustration. The stories range in tone from light-hearted to dark, and despite their brevity make you ponder and think. They've inspired me to have a go at some micro-fiction myself!
-Jen on Goodreads
Annahar English - June 2nd, 2020
Today marks the day Andrews McMeel Publishing will be releasing its edition of ‘55 slightly sinister stories’ by Lebanese author Racha Mourtada.
In this issue of Carpe Diem, and with permission from the original publishing house, five of the stories included in Mourtada’s book will be shared with the section’s readers, as a sneak peek into the world this talented Lebanese author has designed within the pages of her writing. more
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