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Stone of Laughter – Hoda Barakat

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  1. Introduction
  2. Description
  3. Review
  4. Conclusion

Many have undertaken the task of writing in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). Among them, a few female Lebanese authors have attempted to recount their own experience of the war through fiction. The most renowned are Hanan el Sheykh with her novel Hikayat Zahra and Hoda Barakat, notably with the Stone of Laughter, which, according to its author, served the purpose of "reclaiming with words what bombs took away". In one interview, Barakat declared that "in the novel [she] gave back the names to streets that no longer existed: for the beauty of remembering their names". Barakat uses several mechanisms and metaphorical devices to both state the extent of the Lebanese' denial of the events and then counteract it, by forcing the Lebanese society to attempt remembrance and long-avoided debate. The novel allows for broader observation of how the Lebanese remember and commemorate the conflict, and of whether there are initiatives towards acceptation and reconciliation as seen in South Africa with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The results of an observation of the Lebanese artistic, political and architectural landscape are ambiguous, as private initiatives attempt to replace official reconciliation and commemoration projects which are lacking today in Lebanon.

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