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Abbas ElZein

'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.

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It has been raining all week, persistent drizzle unlike the brief downpours that are more typical of Beirut. The city is slumbering. I am staying with my parents. My father goes out less often. My mother is snuggled under the blankets. She hopes the war won’t happen. The kettle is boiling like a purring cat. The house is quiet. Rain is the soporific of cities.

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