Paragraphe Hugh Maclennan Prize for Fiction
Rawi Hage, BFA 98
Beirut Hellfire Society (Knopf Canada)
The award-winning novelist’s Beirut Hellfire Society is set in 1978 during Lebanon’s Civil War. Pavlov is the son of an undertaker. Upon his father’s death, he is approached by a member of an anti-religious sect, the Hellfire Society. The group arranges burial or cremation for those who have been outcast and abandoned by family, church and state. Honour-bound, Pavlov agrees to take up his father’s work for the society. He acts as survivor-chronicler of his torn and fading community, bearing witness to both its enduring rituals and its inevitable decline.