“It’s the year 2015, Lebanon as we know it has ceased to exist. Hezbollah has taken over and sharia law is now a way of life. The rest of the religious sects are now nothing more than pockets of rebels. “
Those were the starting lines heard from Mazen Zahreddine, the author of The August 2015 Project – a new type of serial novel that I encountered some 5 months ago. Revolving around Haidar Rasuli, the Shiite protagonist who is mentally unstable, sees ghosts and is trying to save Lebanon to boot, it is a comic novel that indirectly highlights the negative aspects of the Lebanese society that we live in. Playing on the clichés that we associate with each political faction, we are taken to a different world where all we know no longer exists and are instead thrust in a world where everything is not as it seems. We follow Haidar through very comic experiences and emotional traumas on his quest to save the soul of Lebanon – granted that this quest in and of itself was instigated by one of the ghosts he sees.
With all the new forms of literary ‘movements’ going on, so to speak, I enjoyed this new take on serial novels. The initial concept revolves around experiencing the novel first hand as it is written. With each chapter written, Mazen – who is also known as the Amazin’ Sardine – would read it out loud. The effect: laughter, tension and suspense. Taking the serialization to the next level by presenting it to a live audience, Mazen was able to get more emotion and expression into his work rather than leaving the reader to decipher the feelings and emotions of the characters. You could actually see them in your mind’s eye with every movement of his hands and the emotion in his voice. A live audio-book of sorts.
This is not to say that the ‘reader/listener’ was left out of the loop. Far from it, at the end of each new chapter, we would always get the chance to discuss where the next chapter should go, make suggestions and random comments. Each chapter was written in the two weeks between each scheduled reading. Experiencing this living novel was a novel experience for me. Those who are interested in it should contact Mazen soon since he will be recording the audio tracks for his novel since it should be released later on this year and is graciously accepting those who might want to sit in to listen. I highly recommend you do so as it is not to be missed. I have left a little taste for you in the video below.
A note to Mazen; I still wanted that baby to be cooked.