Born in Beirut at the height of the civil war, Hilal Chouman is one of the foremost writers of Lebanon’s post-war generation. He is the author of five novels and a literary critic for various Arabic newspapers.
Chouman’s skill at capturing the struggles of millennials coming of age in a country beset by corruption, instability and trauma was established with Stories of Sleep (2008) and Napolitana (2010). Limbo Beirut (2012), composed of five interlinked stories set amid the violent clashes which took place in the city in May 2008, was a commercial success in Arabic and was subsequently translated into English. Reviewers called Chouman “a sharp, insightful writer” (Publishers Weekly) and praised the novel’s hybrid form for conveying “a collective, multidimensional truth that is richer than any one individual narrative” (Words Without Borders).
This adventurous approach to form has become one of the most distinctive characteristics of Chouman’s work. In Once Upon a Time, Tomorrow (2016), the narrative is punctuated by
newspaper, TV and radio features, which lend the novel a mesmerizing cinematic quality, while in Sadness in My Heart (2022), the narrative is propelled forward at whirlwind speed by chapters of 500 words or less.
Chouman has also been praised for his uniquely deft, sensitive portrayals of queer life in Lebanon. This theme comes most to the fore in Sadness in My Heart, a keenly felt reflection on queer love and what it can teach us about the meaning of family and roots.
His website (in Arabic): hilalchouman.com
His Instagram account: instagram.com