ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN VORAKA
Article Published on 30th January 2023 by Gabriel Valor | www.vorakamag.com
In the spirited heart of Beirut, a city rebounding with life while nursing the scars of a devastating harbor explosion, the story woven in "Warehouse 12: In Memories of the Lost" by Fouad El-Khabbaz unfolds. This work of fiction, rooted in real-life events, offers readers a vivid mosaic of lives portraying a community standing resilient, interlaced during recovery and aspiration.
Central to this tale are Omar and Emma, whose stories resonate with the spirit of resilience and a burning aspiration for change that defines Beirut. Omar is deeply intertwined with Georges and Samir, a loving couple part of the LGBTQ community who fostered a haven of camaraderie and shared dreams in their coffee shop, “Aroma of Beirut.” Their place, a sanctuary of warmth and acceptance, met a tragic end as it became a crucible of intolerance and hatred. The violent aggressors, driven by deep-seated prejudice, perpetuated a fatal attack against the duo, showcasing the horrendous extent of homophobia and hatred present in society.
Parallelly, we journey with Emma as she undertakes a path of self-discovery, her story intersecting with the touching story of Adele and her son Anthony. Adele navigates a whirlpool of emotions, evolving from the harrowing loss of Anthony to the rekindling of hope upon their reunion, illustrating a rich canvas of loss, recovery, and bright aspirations for the future.
The story expands to introduce groups like Al-Jihad Al-Aswad (The Black Jihad) and Salibiu Lubnan Aljadid (The Crusaders of New Lebanon). These entities steer the political dynamics, providing a glimpse into the heartbeat of modern Lebanese society, a landscape pulsating with chaos yet resilient with burgeoning hope.
El-Khabbaz integrates a significant international dimension, featuring notable figures such as the American Ambassador Fisher and the German Chancellor Annette Schmidt. These people emerge as pivotal influencers, bringing international attention to the pressing situation in Lebanon and highlighting the global response to the region's dire circumstances.
Through masterful storytelling, El-Khabbaz navigates readers through personal tales woven into the larger socio-political legacy, crafting a vivid portrayal of a society standing at a historic crossroads. "Warehouse 12: In Memories of the Lost" presents a poignant exploration of the human condition, set against the vibrant yet tumultuous backdrop of Beirut, offering a heartfelt glimpse into a resilient community working towards a hopeful and brighter future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fouad El-Khabbaz, a renowned Canadian-Lebanese poet, fiction writer, and digital artist, brings forth a rich canvas of experiences stretching between two worlds. Growing up amidst the tumultuous period in Lebanon (1975-2005), he was deeply influenced by the vibrant culture and the complex stories that shaped his homeland. This deep background became the bedrock of his deeply resonant work, creating a complexity that narrates history through personal insights and experiences.
In 2005, El-Khabbaz migrated to Canada, navigating a path laden with new challenges. Despite this, his fervent commitment to his craft remained unyielding, a testimony to his intrinsic drive to narrate stories rooted in deep personal experiences. The recent global slowdown offered a fertile ground for deeper artistic exploration, a venture that reached a pinnacle when he secured the second prize at the prestigious 2023 Batroun International Festival photography award.
Leveraging a strong foundation in Information Technology, El-Khabbaz merges traditional and digital art forms seamlessly, offering a fresh, modern perspective in his creations. His artistic journey paints tales of human resilience and courage, standing as a universal resonance and a testimony to the transformative power of art and literature.
As a co-founder of the Immigrant Writers Association in Canada, he nurtured a platform to celebrate the rich stories of immigrant writers. His literary landscape is expansive, featuring notable works like the
bilingual poetry book "Whispers of Two Worlds," and the English poetry compilation "The Journey." Alongside his mother, Edma El-Khabbaz, he co-published the French photo-poetry book "Fenêtres Sur Ma Vie," weaving personal stories with shared familial experiences. El-Khabbaz’s career spans diverse sectors including banking, government, media, and non-profit organizations, providing him with a rich understanding of society’s diverse facets. The nurturing environment of his childhood home, a library brimming with over a thousand books, fostered his love for storytelling, a passion cultivated further through inspirations from family friends, and luminaries like Georges Bohas, Edgard Weber, and Luc Balbont.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR FOUAD EL-KHABBAZ
How did your childhood in Lebanon's tumultuous years shape your unique artistic perspective?
The intricate cultural mosaic and turbulent socio-political environment of Lebanon during my early years significantly molded my artistic viewpoint, compelling me to be involved in narratives rich in resilience, vivid traditions, and the unyielding fortitude of the human spirit.
What inspired your decision to migrate to Canada in 2005, and how did this new environment influence your creative journey?
Leaving Lebanon was tough due to growing unrest and limited freedoms. Yet, relocating to Canada opened doors to boundless opportunities and personal growth. This change brought a fresh perspective to my creative journey, merging Lebanese roots with new experiences, and enhancing my artistic approach.
Can you share the story behind your 2023 Batroun International Festival photography award-winning shot?
To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the November 2023 Literature special issue XVII.