Friday 17 January 2014

Saving books

Astonishingly, the Maktabat al-Sa’eh fire prompted something that two years of suicide bombings and assassination attempts had not: a public outcry. The Lebanese have absorbed the blows of the Syrian proxy war by desensitizing themselves, an old habit born from years of muddling forward through violence, decaying infrastructure, and communal strife. When Father Sarrouj’s books went up in flames, though, a nerve was apparently struck. Within hours, civil-society groups set up a barn-raising effort to secure and catalogue the undamaged books, clean up the shop, and build new shelving. Someone launched a fundraising initiative. Book drives were organized around the country. An international courier announced that it would ship books from anywhere in the world to Lebanon to replenish Father Sarrouj’s collection. 
The New Yorker: Letter from Lebanon: A Bookshop Burns, January 16, 2014

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