If you think you understand Lebanon, it’s because someone has not explained it to you properly.
Lebanese saying


Let internationally bestselling author Pierre Jarawan take you on a journey to Lebanon with the book that will change your perception of the Middle East


The Storyteller

The Storyteller is to Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is to Afghanistan.

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. His only clues are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. The Storyteller follows Samir’s search for Brahim, the father whose heart was always yearning for his homeland, Lebanon. In this moving and gripping novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures to reveal the intimate story of an exiled family torn apart by civil war and guilt. In this rich and skilful account, Jarawan proves that he too is a masterful storyteller.


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I
How was I to know I’d be haunted by that photo forever? 

Prologue

Bright lights, throbbing sounds. Beirut by night, a sparkling beauty, a twinkling tiara, a breathless trail of flickering lights. As a child, I loved to imagine myself here someday. Now there’s a knife stuck in my ribs, and the pain shooting through my chest is so intense I can’t even scream. But we’re brothers, I want to shout, as they tear the rucksack off my back and kick me till I sink to my knees. The pavement is warm. The wind is coming in from the Corniche; I can hear the sea lapping at the shore and music drifting out of the restaurants along the street. I can smell the salt in the air, and the dust and the heat. I can taste blood, a metallic trickle on my lips. Fear wells up inside me, and rage. I’m no stranger here, I want to shout after them. Their echoing footsteps taunt me. I have roots here, I want to cry out, but all I manage is a gurgle. 
I see my father’s face. His silhouette framed in the bedroom door, that last shared moment before my sleepy young eyes closed. I wonder whether time and regret have haunted him. 
I remember the verse the old man with the beard had muttered: … then no one responding to a cry would be there for them, nor would they be saved.
Then I remember the rucksack. But it’s not the money or my passport I’m thinking of—they’re gone. It’s the photo in the inside pocket. And his diary. All gone. The pain is so bad I almost pass out.
I am responsible for a man’s death, I think.
Then, as the blood seeps out of  my chest: Pull yourself together. It must mean something. A sign.
The men’s footsteps fade and I am alone; all I can hear now is my own heartbeat.
A strange sense of calm comes over me. If I survive this, I think, it will be for a reason. My journey won’t be over yet. I’ll make one last attempt to find him. 

Bookseller Voices

from around the Globe

”In The Storyteller, German-Lebanese author Pierre Jarawan has created a work of art that explores the importance of family and nationality in the creation of an identity. Jarawan fills the book with stories of the Lebanese civil war, teaching the history of the country and the event without making it feel like you are learning anything or reading a history book.  Samir, the main character, is incredibly relatable in his search for understanding of himself even though his circumstances are not something even close to anything I have experienced.  Jarawan creates a cast of characters in which I cared about each and every one of them, despite their faults. A definite must read.”
Portia Turner, The Book Cellar, USA
The Storyteller is truly a work of art, one of those masterful books that from the moment you start reading it you began to live two lives, moving back and forth between your own reality and Samir’s story. And then, somewhere around the middle of the book, you become so invested in Samir you decide to transcend the triviality of your own life events to be a part of Samir’s journey, a journey so poignant that it then becomes a part of you.  It was an absolute honour to read an early review copy. I loved every page of this book. 
Shonee Mirchandani, Bookazine, Hong Kong
"Reading those descriptive words, I felt myself in Lebanon. Jarawan has the ability to paint you a picture with his expressive words and take you where you’ve never been. A true depiction of culture and identity. A story about history, family and the secrets that bind them. The Storyteller is a beautifully written novel that you do not want to miss."
Tamar Kassabian, Virgin Megastore, Egypt
"A lovely -and perfectly titled book - the storytelling is WONDERFUL! The Storyteller follows a son in search of his father and explores cultural identity and displacement but is ultimately a story about family secrets, love and friendship. Pierre is a German-Lebanese author and this book was a bestseller in Germany for months. Only 100 pages in but I love it!"
Drake The Bookshop, UK

"The Storyteller seamlessly integrates history and human reality into a beautiful fictional narrative. The author takes us on a journey with Samir, a Lebanese boy born a refugee in Germany. Through the immersive stories of hi father about the beautiful country of Lebanon, its damaged history and its proud cedar trees Samir is constantly reminded of his roots, and so his cultural identity crisis is alleviated. It accounts for what it feels like for humans living in diaspora to search for love and belonging in both their country of residence and country of origin. Above all, it illustrates a relationship bond that is rarely accounted for – a strong and loving relationship between a father and a son."

Khadija Lawal, Virgin Megastore MENA, United Arab Emirates 
“A great personal story intertwined with the 1982 Lebanon war. It’s story of love, religion, race and politics. A surprising ending after a fast-paced investigation into one’s root.”
Frank,  Bluefountain, China
  “I am most affected by this incredibly vivid language, the subtle urgency. An important book at the right time.” 
Martina Kraus, Ravensbuch, Germany

  “As if in a fairy tale you are visiting a foreign country, smelling the cedar trees and learning about Lebanon’s history in this deeply touching story. You will be in the world of Samir from beginning to end. You will be unable to leave Samir and the other colorful characters, as you travel to the land in which the cedars whisper of a different, better world.”
Aysen Boylu, Homer Books, Turkey 

 
“This is a book everyone should read, everyone in the world. It’s an important book, a beautiful book, a book that changes the way you look at the world. This book really opens your eyes and your heart for Lebanon and the people who are living there. It’s a book you must read.”
Manda Heddema, de Koperen Tuin, Netherlands

  “Jarawan builds an incredible tension; seduces the reader into wildly speculating about a lost father’s fate, and, in the end, surprises completely. The author creates a wonderful balance between a sensual tale and factual story – he both moved and mesmerized me.”
Jacqueline Masuck, Dussman Das Kulturkaufhaus, Germany

  “Jarawan's adeptness in the storytelling genre mixed with his knowledge of the Lebanese civil war creates a work that is both intensely lyrical and a power reflection on an important piece of recent history. This book has everything you could want: love, loss, mystery, history, and the wisdom gained from an insightful dive into very complex political and religious history.”
Hannah, Malaprop's Bookstore, USA

The Storyteller is one of those rare novels that elegantly interweave history, culture, religion, identity and family together in a heartbreaking and fascinating story of a young man’s search for his father in Lebanon. But also a search for his own identity, being torn between his Lebanese roots and the Germany that welcomed Samir and his family, when the war broke out in Lebanon. A relevant story so many people can relate to. I love the fables Pierre Jarawan uses to tell the story, but also the suspense he builds up through the novel. Pierre Jarawan is a true storyteller!”
Kristina Hauberg, Politiken, Denmark

  “Lyrical prose, characters that claim your empathy, and an intriguing plot prove Pierre Jarawan is a gifted storyteller.  Samir’s family fled war torn Lebanon for a safer life in Germany.  His father, Brahim, would tell stories of his homeland, stories that connected young Samir to a past he does not know. Memories of his father are the stories he told, stories of yearning set in a land that holds their history, a land they left for new lives in Germany.  Brahim is an affectionate father, a cheerful man who was always up for a party, a song, the company of friends or strangers.  Sadness would burden him, memories a catalyst for despair. Samir adores his father, so deeply that when Brahim disappears, Samir follows to the only destination he can conceive, Lebanon.  It is a dangerous journey to a land he knows only through his father’s stories, there he bears the cost of discovering the secrets of the past.  A beautifully written saga of a troubled land.”
Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, USA
  “Pierre Jarawan is a true storyteller whose vivid writing is able to evoke urgency and empathy where factual reporting can’t. Khaled Hosseini gave us an understanding of Afghanistan. In the same way, Jarawan changes our perception of the conflict in the Middle East.”
Juliane Ziskoven, Mayersche Buchhandlung, Germany

  “I always like books and stories set in countries you hear a lot about on the news but don't really know what actually happened or still happens there. For me Lebanon was not only one of the settings in the novel but came almost across as a character itself. I was transported to a country I've never been to but I could see and smell the different places described in the book and I now actually want to visit Lebanon and see Beirut and the mountains. And I learned a lot about the history of Lebanon of which I wasn't aware before. As for the story itself I liked the poetic language Jarawan uses to describe the search of a son for his father. It captures the desperation of a child who doesn't understand why his father disappeared and what consequences this has even as he becomes an adult. At times heartbreaking and very sad it still is a hopeful book. And it asks you the question how well you truly know someone, even if it's one of your family members and how far you would go to find out the truth. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a story about family, secrets, the history of a country and the love between fathers and sons.”
Christoph Hänni, Buchhaus, Switzerland
  “A wonderful book; an enchanting family story; a perfect novel. The reader is continuously reminded of the great Rafik Schami.”
Walter Reimann, Buchhandlung Hirslanden, Switzerland 

  “What a debut! With this book, Jarawan joins the rank of the very best contemporary authors in Germany.”
Volker Keidel, Hugendubel Germany 

  “I just picked up the galley of The Storyteller and was greeted by such an evocative first chapter— a father installing a satellite dish, Lebanese food, neighbors — that now I have to read the whole book.
And it does not disappoint!”
Mary E Cotton, Newtonville Books, USA

  “The Storyteller thrilled me! I joined Samir on an exciting and touching journey, and spent the entire duration of the book in Lebanon.”
Michaela Maczejka, Buchhandlung Zweymueller, Germany 
  
 “Wow. Just wow. I spent my last two years of high school in Beirut and then was there as a college student on summer break in 1975 when the civil war broke out. Not only does this novel capture all the things about Lebanon that made me and my fellow American Community School high school students fall in love with the place, but the story weaves in all of the disparate issues that helped foment the crisis and all the devastation--not only of buildings, but of families and communities--that followed. It's a story reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and yet it also probes the growing phenomenon of "third culture" kids...something very much on the increase as more and more parts of the world cough up war refugees. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
Tanya Mills, The Book Bungalow, USA
 
“A miraculous book. Despite it being the last nice weekend of the Fall, I didn’t get out of my chair because I had to know how the story ends. I hope the book will meet with many enthusiastic readers.”
Jennifer Mertens, Kurt Heymann, Germany 
  “Samir journeys from the safety of the new life his family has built in Germany to Lebanon to find his father, his only clues the stories his father told him and an old photograph, which lead him through history into the heart of Lebanon’s civil war. I was immediately drawn into the mesmerizing descriptions in this novel, which opened worlds to me that I had never had presented so vividly to me. The combination of Pierre Jarawan’s storytelling and Sinead Crowe’s translation creates a powerful, moving, beautiful narrative.”
Anna Eklund, University Bookstore, USA
  “Beginnings and endings cycle through Pierre Jarawan's tightly interlaced story which never tries to separate personal lives from the larger world in which the characters are living. Because they cannot be. It is life. He creates a sense of urgency. The desire to unravel a central mystery seems overwhelming yet there are pockets of space throughout as details of the character's live unfold and episodes unwind before the road twists and turns once more.”
Connie Griffin, Bookworks, USA
“A magnificent writer. Very personal, emotional, stirring and outstandingly well-written. A wonderful story of home, family and the search for one’s own roots.”
Hans Grünthaler, Buchhandlung Schmid, Germany   
“What a pleasure and delight it was to read this novel! The reader is fully immersed in the story, completely captivated, enchanted, mesmerized. Jarawan is an exceptionally gifted storyteller.”
Christian Niedermeier, Thalia Buchhandlung, Germany 

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PIERRE JARAWAN was born in 1985 to a Lebanese father and a German mother and moved to Germany with his family at the age of three. Inspired by his father’s imaginative bedtime stories, he started writing at the age of thirteen. He has won international prizes as a slam poet, and in 2016 was named Literature Star of the Year by the daily newspaper Abendzeitung. Jarawan received a literary scholarship from the City of Munich (the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis) for The Storyteller, which went on to become a bestseller and booksellers’ favorite in Germany and the Netherlands.

Meet Pierre on tour!
3/29/2019 6 pm
Festival Neue Literatur - Words with Writers
Austrian Cultural Forum 
New York
3/30/2019 6 pm      
Festival Neue Literatur - Another Country: Distant Lands Up Close and Personal 
POWERHOUSE Arena
New York
3/31/2019 2 pm      
Festival Neue Literatur – Author's Voice
Deutsches Haus at NYU
New York
4/2/2019 6 pm     
Goethe Institute Chicago Chicago 

4/6/2019 5 pm
Sunriver Books & Music
Sunriver, Oregon

4/8/2019 7 pm
Tattered Cover
Denver

4/9/2019 7 pm
Community Bookstore
Brooklyn
4/10/2019 7 pm
Book Culture on Columbus
Manhattan

4/11/2019 7 pm
Scuppernong Books
Greensboro, NC
4/13/2019 2 pm
Pages Bookshop & Arab American Museum 
Detroit
4/14/2019 4pm
Malvern Books
Austin
4/16/2019 7 pm
Left Bank Books
St. Louis
4/18/2019 6 pm
Country Bookshelf
Bozeman, MT 
4/24/2019 7 pm
Books Inc.
San Francisco (Berkeley)
4/26/2019 7 pm
The Book Bungalow       
St. George, UT 
4/30/2019
Goethe Institute
Kansas
5/1/2019
Porter Square Books
Cambridge

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