Mazen Kerbaj’s graphic novel Lettre à la mère

Thanks to M. Lynx Qualey at Arabic Literature (in English), I woke up this morning to the announcement that Mazen Kerbaj’s new graphic novel is now available. Very much looking forward to getting my hands on this one – if I’m not mistaken (and someone please correct me if I am), it’s his first longer work in French.

lettre22

I first became aware of Mazen in 2007 through his blog account of the 2006 Israeli War in Lebanon (written primarily in English and some Arabic), which had been translated into French and published by L’Association. After I perused the book, I pulled up his blog, and found his minimalist improvised jazz piece, “Starry Night.” Here is how I described Mazen setting up to record this piece in my dissertation:

On the night of July 15-16, 2006, Lebanese avant jazz trumpeter and visual artist Mazen Kerbaj set up his recording equipment on the balcony of his Beirut apartment. Once the mics were set up and he had checked sound levels, he hit record. He then improvised on his trumpet to the sight and sounds of bombs falling from Israeli fighter jets. Over the thirty-three days of the 2006 Israeli War, Kerbaj recorded over nine hours of improvisation with the bombs.[1] On July 16, 2006, however, an unedited excerpt from these improvisations of Kerbaj’s first night on the balcony appeared in the sidebar of his blog. Entitled “Starry Night,” this minimalistic improvised piece has remained available on the blog sidebar ever since.

“Starry Night” was one of Kerbaj’s first responses to the Israeli War. The image that Kerbaj posted on his blog the day he posted the piece speaks, perhaps, to one of his aims for the musical piece: finding no clear and urgent means of expression through the visual, he turned to the musical.

beirut_16july

[Note to self: email Mazen at some point to ask about his comment in his email press release, “for those who are not in Lebanon, the book is available in bookstores in France (and the half-dead francophone world). For the rest of the world, it is available online at amazon.fr.”]
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Further reading:

[1] Email correspondence with Kerbaj, 28 May 2007.

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