What's New
Niko longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Award
I'm thrilled to report that Niko has made the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Award longlist, alongside 153 other international novels!  You can view the entire longlist here.

Niko to be published in Turkey
Turkish-language rights for Dimitri Nasrallah’s second novel, Niko, have sold to Everest, the Turkish publisher of Rawi Hage, Zadie Smith, and Penelope Lively, among many other renowned English-language authors. Publication of the Turkish edition of Niko is scheduled for Spring of 2014.
Nasrallah on France's Tonino Benacquista in the Toronto Star
In the Toronto Star's books section, I review The Thursday Night Men, the latest novel by French author Tonino Benacquista.



Review: Broken Pencil

"Nobody knows what the future holds. Our only choice in the matter is to live, to continue living, to find out how things are going to turn out. All we can do is hope." This story of a fatherand-son's 12-year journey starts first in Beirut, where the young protagonist Nakhle (Niko) Karam and his parents are doing their best to survive a violent civil war. They live in a small apartment, leaving only for work and food, while Niko finds distraction in Tom and Jerry: "As he follows the catand-mouse adventures, he forgets the world outside, with its black plumes of smoke and intermittent gunfire." (This small detail brought me back to my own time growing up in pre-war former Yugoslavia, where cartoons like this aired at random intervals and catching even two minutes made my day.) Niko, however, is not as lucky as I was. He comes home one day shortly after his school has reopened, excited to share what he's learned with his parents, only to discover that his mother and her unborn child are killed by a car bomb.

This begins the father-and-son epic of Niko and Antoine as they escape war, face separation, travel to new lands, meet new people and redefine their place in the world. The tale is so sprawling, in fact, I often had to stop a few times to recalculate Niko's age and the number of years that had passed. This is the second novel from Montreal writer Dimitri Nasrallah and it shows his strength at character development not only in the title character but also in Sami, Yvonne and Barbara. His take on immigrant travails is also noteworthy in his none-too-sunny portrayal of Canada. Of all seven countries the father and son visit, Canada is shown as the most cold and rigid where "there are too many rules, and no one is happy." All too often Canada is painted as the land of opportunity and success for immigrants, but this leaves out the more honest reality that not every newcomer, regardless of the hell he or she has escaped, is happy to be here. More of Niko's thoughts on the world around him would have been a welcome addition to the book. But on the whole, I was taken aback by Nasrallah's ability to infuse every scene, act and thought with emotion. By the time I reached the novel's dramatic finish, I'd shed more than a few tears. (Olga Kidisevic, October 1, 2011)