Always Coca-Cola by Alexandra Chreiteh

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The story of three different young women marks the literary debut of an amazing writer from Lebanon

Always Coca-Cola is the story of three very different young women attending university in Beirut: Abeer, Jana, and Yasmine. The narrator, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop. Abeer’s bedroom window is filled by a view of a Coca-Cola sign featuring the image of her sexually adventurous friend, Jana. From the novel’s opening paragraph—“When my mother was pregnant with me, she had only one craving. That craving was for Coca Cola”—first-time novelist Alexandra Chreiteh asks us to see, with wonder, humor, and dismay, how inextricably confused naming and desire, identity and branding. The names—and the novel’s edgy, cynical humor—might be recognizable across languages, cultures, and geographies. But Chreiteh’s novel is first and foremost an exploration of a specific Lebanese milieu. Critics in Lebanon have responded in a storm, calling the novel “an electric shock” and finding that the problems of its characters reflect grave “social anomalies.” Read Chreiteh and see what the storm is all about.

About Alexandra Chreiteh

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Alexandra Chreiteh is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale University. Michelle Hartman is an associate professor of Arabic and francophone literature at McGill University.
Published November 1, 2012 by Interlink Books. 122 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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(It doesn’t hurt that Yana’s boyfriend is the manager of the local Coca-Cola company.) Yana is Romanian rather than Lebanese, but she’s established herself comfortably in Beirut…at least till she finds out she’s pregnant, and by her boyfriend rather than by her ex-husband.

Feb 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Always Coca-Cola

New York Journal of Books

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“Always Coca-Cola’s best moments illustrate the fault-line between tradition and modernity . . . Always Coca-Cola is about the simmering tension between tradition and modernity as experienced by young middle-class Lebanese women. This is a great premise for a novel. Though the final English-langu...

Jan 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Always Coca-Cola

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