Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad: The Lame Boy and Other Stories
Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad (1911-1989) was a Lebanese author born in the town of Bharsaf, in the Metn District, in Mount Lebanon. His career spanned eight decades of literary, diplomatic, and political activities. He was a diplomat, a lawyer, a journalist, an essayist, a poet, a short story writer, a novelist, and an ambassador. He lived through three major wars and witnessed the Suez Canal crisis. Tragedy accompanied him since his birth with the outbreak of the First World War, which was later followed by the Second World War, and almost three decades later, in 1975 by the Lebanese Civil War. Throughout this book, Awwad’s characters are the embodiment of the real tragic hero. They are people who are touched by the hand of evil, overshadowed by bad luck and ill fortune, and upon whom the sun did not shine, and life did not smile. They are tragic figures who were doomed, not necessarily because of particular crimes which they had committed, but mostly because they were born under an unlucky star. They were perhaps weak, indecisive, and overwhelmed by circumstances, which either drove them to madness or caused their demise, or they were allowed to endure these tragic events only to regret their actions or inaction for the rest of their lives. Awwad admittedly chose the novel and the short story as his preferred literary genre over other types of literature such as poetry. He was a gifted storyteller and a keen observer of human nature, who was inspired by life at large, and in particular, by the experiences, observations, and events of his own personal life which was marred by tragedy, hunger, death, and the cruelty and destruction of war which he witnessed firsthand. He chose the streets of Beirut as his muse and lifted his tableaus and representations from the tragic lives of the people who walked those streets, depicting the heartbreaking events which they suffered and endured. Although these characters are confined to a certain city, a particular district, or a well-known street in Lebanon, nevertheless, they are universal and three dimensional. As a novelist, Awwad remains a recognized pioneer of this literary genre in Lebanon and in the Middle East.