M. Lynx Qualey at The Believer:
When civil war broke out in Lebanon in the mid-1970s, Lebanese art had just gone through an avant-garde flowering, much of it detached from the grit of daily life and driven by a search for its own text-centric truths. The war’s opening battle, in 1975, between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Kataeb Christian militia, brought writers, along with everyone else, to the ground. The initial conflict inspired alliances in accord with relatively clear political and religious affiliations. A young Elias Khoury, compelled by the injustices done to Palestinians—which he would later explore in Gate of the Sun—fought on the Palestinian side. But Khoury didn’t last long as a simultaneous novelist and soldier; his 1981 novel, White Masks, drove a wedge between him and the PLO.