Dominique Eddé is a Lebanese novelist and essayist, whose works include Kamal Jann, Kite, and The Crime of Jean Genet, published in English by Seagull Books and translated by Ros Schwartz. Her forthcoming book, Edward Said: His Thought as a Novel, will be published in August by Verso Books. (June 2019)

NYR DAILY

‘The Compatibility of Opposites’: A Portrait of Lebanon

Street scene in the suburb of Dahieh, a Hezbollah stronghold on the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012

As the country becomes more and more fragmented, so religion increasingly binds on the one hand, divides on the other. This dubious equation is spreading globally, but as in so many things, Lebanon is a step ahead when it comes to emerging symptoms and hopeless remedies. The Arabic word for nuance is farq saghir: small difference. Needless to say, Lebanon takes the prize for “small differences.” The stronghold of nuance and of caricature, it is the permanent fount of infinitely subtle and pointless arguments, with all concerned having a vested interest in ensuring the permanent imbalance. The Lebanese beat all records for splits, divisions, and contradictions. They are cynical and sentimental, tired and full of energy, capable of bending over backward for family and friends, incapable of uniting for the sake of the country.