Nasri Atallah’s Our Man In Beirut provided an refreshing inroad into the complexities of this beautiful Mediterranean country and its complex people.
The observations about Beirut and its people are delightful, engaging, yet peppered with a healthy dose of cynicism. He loves living there yet he often needs to escape. What is endearing is that he doesn’t shy away from making peace with its complicated relationship.
His take on Lebanese culture, the friendliness of it’s people, the failing political systems and the obsession with designer wear and perfect looks... is captured brilliantly in blogposts from his earlier days settling back into Beirut to it becoming his home.
It’s very relatable for someone who has similar ambivalent feelings about Pakistan. But whereas Lebanon seems to have held on to its joie de vivre in spite of its wartime past, corrupt politicians, westward brain drain, Pakistan, on the other hand, has sadly lost much of what could have pulled at an expat’s heartstrings, due to its rapid slide into extremism and intolerance.
In places Nasri has been a bit too harsh on his fellow people, but one must commend him for making the place come alive with his detailed observations which bring the bustling, lively city into the hands of the reader as he takes us along on this bumpy but exciting ride.
Condition: Very Good
Goodreads rating: 3.57/5