Haidar Safa, Mazen Abdallah

The Scarecrow

Original Arabic Title: Khayal al-sahra, published in 2010 by Dar al-Adab
(German title: Die Vogelscheuche)
ca. 107 pages
Haidar Safa

Haidar Safa

Haidar Safa, born in Beirut in 1961, studied engineering in Solingen and teaches German in Beirut.

Mazen Abdallah

Mazen Abdallah

Mazen Abdallah, born in southern Lebanon in 1957, studied in Beirut where he is a bank manager.

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On September 11, 2001, as footage of New York flashes across television screens, Adam begins to make a scarecrow. It is just like the first one he ever saw, so many years ago in his small village south of Beirut. His friends have all left him; he sent them away. Now he creates for himself someone who listens and remains silent, who joins him in all activities. With his companion he founds the »Republic of Silence«. Is Adam crazy?

Now 44, the orphan who joined a militia during the civil war works as a television director. That is until one morning when, provoked by the noise of the rubbish collectors, he attacks a garbage man and finds himself in prison. And who should collect him from jail but his scarecrow, suddenly in th ehabit of giving answers and even his own opinions. But the difficulties with his newly insubordinate creation end in catastrophe: a return to the original state of things. There, leaning motionless and quiet against the wall of his room is the scarecrow. Adam is crazy. And happy. But for how much longer?

The Scarecrow is a short and alarming story from the Beirut of today, captured into quick and remarkable prose. Sparingly and breathlessly told directly from two Lebanese men. What does a child turn to when both mother and father are missing and no one steps in, when society's rules, suddenly arbitrary matters of enforcement, are replaced by raw violence?