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)
A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Michael Greenberg in Brooklyn, Raquel Salas Rivera in San Juan, Aida Alami in Paris, Rahmane Idrissa in Niamey, Verlyn Klinkenborg in East Chatham, Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.
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.