When All Else Fails (PB) (2019)

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When All Else Fails, which begins on September 12, 2001, is the darkly humorous saga of Hunayn, a luckless and lovelorn Iraqi Christian who's in Orlando, Florida for college after having graduated from high school in Beirut, Lebanon. Hunayn's life is upended by 9/11--but not immediately, and not in the way that he, fearful in the aftermath of the attacks, initially expects. As America settles into its post-9/11, open-ended "Septemberland" phase (vigilant but also overly suspicious and even paranoid), many Arab and Muslim Americans are made to feel that it's no longer their home. With Hunayn, who muddles through a series of surreal episodes in Orlando and nearby Indiantown, including a terrifying encounter at a bar in the middle of nowhere, the situation proves almost the opposite; Septemberland--so many of whose citizens figure they have the guy pegged just because of his name or origins--comes to remind him of his most recent unhappy home, Lebanon, which he assumed he'd left behind. So, having had his fill of disconcerting experiences, Hunayn returns to Beirut. At least he knows how to navigate life back there--or so he thinks. It turns out that Lebanon is about to undergo political upheaval of its own: a former prime minister opposed to neighboring Syria's control of the country is assassinated; subsequent popular protests compel the Syrian regime to withdraw its army; a spate of mysterious bombings terrorizes everyone; and Israel, another neighbor, launches a war on Lebanon in retaliation for an attack by a Lebanese militant group. Hunayn finds himself a swirl in the maelstrom. And all the while, he watches from afar as Iraq, his fabled homeland and the owner of his heart, unravels in the wake of the US-led invasion...


Rayyan Al-Shawaf
ISBN 10:
Interlink Books
Publication Date:
June 1, 2019

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