The Bullet Collection by Patricia Sarrafian Ward

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“Passionate, lyrical, and deeply humane, this tale of two sisters caught in a war without end moves effortlessly through space and time . . . an astonishing first novel.” —Andrea Barrett

Marianna watches her older sister Alaine collect the detritus of war from around Beirut—bullets, shrapnel, grenades, a gas mask. These objects, some taken from dead bodies, catalogue Alaine’s retreat into a dangerous depression. As the family struggles to endure the daily violence of the Middle East conflict, it is Marianna who becomes her older sister’s keeper, watching for any signal that might trigger one of Alaine’s frequent, grim excavations. But once the family escapes to America, Alaine’s newfound contentment is as alien to Marianna as her madness once was. As Marianna longs for her beloved, war-torn home, she struggles to understand that now she is the difficult sister.

In lyrical, dreamlike prose, Patricia Sarrafian Ward mines both the stunning, exotic landscape of Beirut and the pure, defiant landscape of a child’s heart, and shows how war leaves its indelible scars on both.

About Patricia Sarrafian Ward

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Patricia Sarrafian Ward was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1969 and moved to the United States in 1987. She now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published March 5, 2003 by Graywolf Press. 304 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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There’s numbed denial as teenaged Alaine embarks on a death-defying pattern of running away and self-mutilation, while Marianna, in copy-cat retaliation, skips school and attempts repeated overdoses—unable to resist “the drug of dying.” Definitive events include the shady killing of Marianna’s dr...

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Publishers Weekly

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Marianna narrates the story, weaving episodes from their lives in Beirut-ordinary adolescent milestones mingled with the horrors of war-with scenes of their present-day struggles in the U.S. Ward paints a vivid tableau that will be familiar to exiles everywhere: the father, a historian in Bei...

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