The Lebanese writer Alawiya Sobh denounces the Lebanese wound, and takes the reader back to the time of internal discord during the civil war that took place between 1975 and 1990, through her novel “Rejoice, O My Heart.” She treats the brothers’ struggle as if it were a picture of a homeland struggle.
The writer begins by describing streets bisected into two axes in the capital, Beirut, which were divided between eastern and western, to draw with a pen the shapes of the militants, and the shells that were raining in front and behind the car of the protagonist, Ghassan, the oud player who is infatuated with music and fleeing from two hells, his family and his country. Ghassan decides to emigrate, escaping from "Dar Al-Ezz", his northern coastal village, which in the novel embodies Lebanon as a whole, where you find residents of different sects coexisting together, before fighting or disagreeing over the way of life.
The novel says: "Ghassan traveled and left everything behind him, the war and destruction and his family, which resembles his homeland with its devastating small wars and the unknown ahead." On the plane, the voice of Umm Kulthum came to him, “Rejoice, my heart.” Ghassan covered his ears, so as not to feel nostalgia for his first love, “Nour,” and what it represents of childhood memories.
The reader discovered that the song is nothing but the opposite of the scene and the characters in the novel, as the developments draw intertwined dramatic threads, mixing the gloom of love with war, psychological disorders and domestic conflict that extends from “Dar Al-Ezz” to New York City, and the writer described Ghassan in all his details, saying that he has a relationship Strange with sounds “If someone spoke to him, he felt that he was seeing him with his ears, the sounds were his guide to things, as if all his senses resided in them, and his consolation was that he had learned to memorize things from their ringing.
Ghassan's delicate feeling, from the music to the sound of the sea and the autumn leaves, is not similar to the bloody family conflict and the mother's abuse at the hands of a father who exercises his domination in its worst forms, while the wife accepts the violence so as not to destroy her home. These conflicts grew with the days within the family to the point of fighting over the games of the young, before they reached the stage of actual killing. The novel presents the contradictory personalities of six brothers, a cruel father, and a mother who suffers scourge due to torture, injustice and betrayal. Family members search for belonging and identity, but evil rules their steps, so Afif kills his brother Jamal because of ideological differences. As for the other brothers, each of them has a story no less lost than the other, so they all form a divided and painful family, from the mother and father, searching for their pleasures silently and in secret, and falling into the struggle of rivalry. The father represents the tyranny of power, but he is unable to decide between his sons, and it seems to the reader that the brothers are leaders in a homeland that fought for a long time, and its components are still in disagreement even in times of peace.
The novel “Rejoice, O My Heart” is located on 351 pages, of medium length, and it is issued by “Dar Al-Adab” in Beirut, which previously published the novels “Maryam Al-Hakaya”, “Dunya” and “His Name is Love” for Al-Awiyah Sobh. and "to love life". The Lebanese novelist said about her latest work: “The issue of identity, belonging, and the relationship between the East and the West worried me a lot. And revealing the world of the male brothers and all the other concerns that the novel carried, such as alienation, roots, uprooting, and so on, and found in the music, in which it navigated an essential element, but rather came as a real hero in the novel. The writer, who won literary awards and translated a number of her books into English, explained that the title “Rejoice, O My Heart” was derived from a famous Egyptian song, “It is the song of Umm Kulthum, which was associated with the joy of love for Ghassan.
While the reader's breath is held to know the fate of the protagonist, the author chose to leave the end open, a choice about which she said, "I do not know what will be the fate of Ghassan, the impasse is great, so what salvation is there for him? What salvation is for a world that is threatened with collapse, as is the fate of the plane? And what is the fate of the East-West relationship?"