The Road to Chlifa

The Road to Chlifa

Book - 1995
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This hard-hitting novel won, in its original French edition: The Governor General's Award, The Alvine Belisle Award, and The Brive / Montreal Award.

Nominee, Governor General's Literary Award for Translation (from French to English)

Karim has journeyed a long way from his home in war-torn Beirut to his new high school in Quebec. Now he must travel the difficult road to a life without war. There is contempt and racism here, too. But there is also My-Lan, a new companion in a new and challenging country. It is an adventure behind the headlines and a lesson in life you couldn't learn in the classroom.

Publisher: Red Deer, Alta. : Red Deer College Press, 1995.
ISBN: 9780889951297
Branch Call Number: J FIC Marin
Characteristics: 142 pages


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Aug 08, 2013

The Road to Chlifa is a short novel about the hardships of Karim who was born and raised in the capital of Lebanon starting in the year 1972. He never got to know how beautiful his country was during peace times, before the Lebanese Civil War that started in 1975. So while the war raged on, the people of Beirut adapted to live a rat’s life of vegetating in shelter, avoiding conflict in the next street, and conserving energy for tomorrow. Karim hated this primitive life and decided to go to Chlifa with Maha, a fierce and independent twelve-year-old whose family was killed during recent bombings. As this point I was giving sympathy towards the now-seventeen-year-old protagonist Karim who has lost everything he cherished that still stood in Beirut and now just wants to leave. Fortunately, this rather sad story was not to my knowledge been based on true events. But it certainly felt like it was inspired by the events that have occurred throughout the seventeen years of the Lebanese Civil War as the author gives some insight to the chaos and disorder the people of Lebanon had to deal with in their daily lives. While it is not the most cheerful novel out there, the story has a happy ending of Karim moving on from his troubled past and accepting a new life in Canada that I thought it really deserved. I was disappointed at the lack of a journey Karim went through to get to Chlifa, but it still felt like a journey. Unlike some mainstream novels, the protagonist never tries to be a hero. He has modest intentions to stop Maha from going into harm’s way and is still very likable. So you could say I liked the novel in its down-to-earth feel.

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