Hassan Daoud was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1950. After studying Arabic Literature he worked in Beirut as a journalist during the civil war. From 1979 to 1988 he worked as a writer for the daily paper ‘Alsafir Daily’. After that, he was a correspondent for eleven years for the international Arab newspaper ‘Al-Hayat’ which is published in London. Daoud wrote about social themes as well as book reviews, art and cultural criticism for the feature pages. At present he is the chief editor of ‘Nawafez’, the cultural supplement of the Beirut daily paper ‘Al-Mustaqbal Daily’. His commentary on political and cultural events in the Arab world appears in European newspapers as well, for example in the ‘Neue Zürcher Zeitung’. As writer, he has so far published two volumes of short stories and four novels. His first novel, ‘Binâyat Mathilde’ (1983; Eng. ‘The House of Mathilde’, 1999), takes place in a Beirut apartment building during the civil war. At the centre of this social microcosm of Muslim and Christian tenants stands Mathilde, who has offered shelter to a nameless refugee in hiding. Hassan Daoud, who himself grew up in a house in which Muslims, Druzes and Christians, as well as immigrants from Russia and Armenia, all lived together, makes strikingly apparent the background for the disturbance in Lebanese society through the changes in the daily lives of the tenants. In his later novels too, he limits events to a concretely defined space. Daoud frequently tells stories from the perspective of people living on the margins of society. In so doing, he renounces to the greatest possible extent descriptions of local features. Instead, he pens precise observations and subtle details in a trimmed-down language divested of psychological meaning. In ‘Ayyâm zâ’ida’ (1990; t: Added Days), through the continuous monologue of an old man, in which the past and present, memories and dreams are blended into a flow of thought, he depicts the wilful struggle against a family which is indifferent towards him to the point of hostility, but also the futile battle against growing helplessness, physical decline and death. The protagonist of ‘Ghinâ’ al-bitrîq’ (1998; t: The Song of the Penguin), impaired by a physical abnormality, also lives distanced from his fellow men. He obsessively spies and eavesdrops on a young female neighbour. The novel was hailed as ‘The Best Book from Lebanon in 1998’. Hassan Daoud’s most recent novel, ‘Makiage khafif lihazihi Allailah'(t: A Mild Makeup for Tonight), appeared in 2003. Currently he lives in Beirut.
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