Blog: Thin Air, Winnipieg International Writers Festival
Analyzing ‘Niko’ by Dimitri Nasrallah
Dimitri Nasrallah is no stranger to civil war.
was born in Lebanon in 1977 as the country was rife with opposition and
discontent, and it was the only environment he knew as a young child.
In 1981, his family went into exile, living in Athens, Kuwait and Dubai before immigrating to Canada in 1988.
Currently, Nasrallah lives in Montreal. His first novel -
published in 2005. It recounts the exile stories of two Lebanese
citizens as they trek to Canada. Both have very different experiences as
they attempt to find their places in a new world.
The cover of Blackbodying, published in 2005.
Nasrallah’s most recent novel –
– chronicles the life of six-year-old Niko Karam. After his pregnant
mother is killed by a car bomb in Lebanon, his father Antoine decides to
leave the war torn country. Throughout a twelve-year odyssey that leads
them across seven countries, Niko has difficulty growing up and
becoming an adult in a society he feels he can’t truly be comfortable
Cover art for Nasrallah's most recent novel, Niko.
is written in a simple yet poignant tone. It mainly tells the story
from Niko’s perspective, but occasionally shifts to the thoughts and
experiences of other characters. This seems to be a technique used to
fill in information that is necessary to advance the story but unknown
to the main character. The perspective shifts are slight and gradual,
making it easy for the reader to follow one point of view and then
content of the novel is so similar to the life events of Nasrallah that
it almost reads like an autobiography at times. Certain scenes – such
as Niko’s first days at a new school in Canada – are so compelling that
it’s easy to picture a young Nasrallah sitting amongst a diverse group
of students who’ve just arrived in a new country for the first time.
We can't wait to meet Mr. Nasrallah., and are sure his reading will be insightful, moving and interesting.
or not the novel is in fact based on Nasrallah’s life is a question
that will have to wait to be answered until his appearance at THIN AIR
2011 in September…