The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan has taken Germany and The Netherlands by storm, and for good reason. It is a captivating debut novel about family, nostalgia, identity and refugees, which reads like a fairy-tale.
In The Storyteller, Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut to find his missing father, Brahim. His only clues: a grainy photo linking his father to the Lebanese civil war; and a vast array of bedtime stories Brahim used to tell him as a child. As a new wave of refugees arrives in the same German sports hall his family once found itself; Samir tries to untangle a toxic legacy of nostalgia, guilt and secrecy.
With The Storyteller, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan; pulling away the curtain of grim facts and figures and revealing a human story of an exiled family torn apart by civil war. It is a love letter to Beirut, Lebanon and Lebanese culture, and establishes Jarawan as a masterful storyteller in his own right.
NRC Handelsblad sums up the reading experience nicely in their review:
“Jarawan has produced a fairytale that could be straight out of One Thousand And One Nights. From the very beginning, you float away as if on a flying carpet. ” – NRC Handelsblad
A number of Swiss and German outlets have also praised the novel:
“In a sweeping style reminiscent of oriental storytelling, Jarawan tells of escape, migration, and a family torn between two cultures. His debut succeeds in bringing foreign culture into focus and awakens in the reader a fascination with the Land of the Cedars.” – Kulturtipp
“Jarawan’s narrative is captivating, fast-paced, and true to life — a fascinating exploration of the question of what it means to be influenced by several cultures at the same time.” – Frankfurter Neue Presse
“The story of an escape, of a family, and of the Middle East: how the fate of one family is inevitably linked with Lebanon’s history. An enthralling novel which couldn’t be more timely.” – Rhein-Zeitung
The Storyteller is published by World Editions on April 4th (9781642860115, PB, £11.99, 472 pages)