The Secret Maker of the World
University of Queensland Press, $19.95 pb, 192 pp, 9780702250071
‘Fields of Vision’, the first story of Abbas El-Zein’s collection, introduces us to a world in which tragedy is swift and often arbitrary, and if not arbitrary, at least stems from motivations so obscure as to appear so. The sniper protagonist of this story, perched atop his Beirut rooftop, picks off citizens at random, revelling in his having ‘a place in their lives’. He sits outside society and is yet an inherent part of it. This is true of all El-Zein’s protagonists, at once divorced from their various cultures and vitally connected with them. Their actions are both reactions against and definitions of the worlds from which they stem.