Jabbour Douaihy’s Autumn Equinox is a diary of a young man recently resettled in his Lebanese village after going to college in the United States. It continues from the end of May through the September equinox of 1986, narrating his efforts to remake himself through adjustments to his reading, writing, and eating habits, his dress, his posture, his family relationships, his love life. . . .
The diary begins with a view of an Israeli bombing in South Lebanon and ends with a description of refugee families fleeing to the mountain villages. Otherwise, except for allusions to what is going on in the capital, the Lebanese Civil War is far from the story, although its violence has never been far from this village. America, personified by a Lara who does not answer his letters, is a faraway land of nostalgia. The village is here, at the center of the young man’s narration, peopled by comic characters who seem to insist on their own unchanging selfhoods and to resist his attempts to be different.
The Civil War and the Occupation, the author seems to be saying, are not the only sources of turmoil. Violence and revenge have been part of the people’s consciousness, and people might indeed need to redefine themselves while at the same time adjusting to the environment.
About the Author
Jabbour Douaihy is a novelist and professor of French literature in the Lebanese University. Among his publications are the novels Rayya of the River, The Forest Soul, and a collection of short stories, Dying between Relatives Is Sleeping, all in Arabic. Autumn Equinox is the first of his novels to be translated into English.
Nay Youssef Hannawi received her B.A. in English at the American University in Beirut and an M.F.A. in literary translation from the University of Arkansas. She lives in Kuwait where she works as a translator and teaches English at Kuwait University.
On the translation: “. . . the translation is faithful, fluent, and readable. It follows the matter-of-fact style of the Arabic original, a style which is appropriate to the author’s intention as well as the spirit and atmosphere of the work, which is reminiscent of Camus’ The Stranger. This is a richly complex work, and Nay Hannawi’s translation further enriches the complexity, putting the narrator’s thoughts into the mother tongue of the exotic (from his point of view) Lara.” —Husain Haddawi, translator, The Arabian Nights