Najwa Barakat

Mister N

Shortlisted for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize

Modern-day Beirut is seen through the eyes of a failed writer, the eponymous Mister N. He has left his comfortable apartment and checked himself into a hotel – he thinks. Certainly, they take good care of him there. Meanwhile, on the streets below, a grim pageant: poverty, violence and fear.

How is anyone supposed to write deathless prose in such circumstances? Let alone an old man like Mister N., whose life and memories have become scattered, whose family regards him as an embarrassment, and whose next-door neighbours torment him with their noise, dinner invitations, and inconvenient suicides. Comical and tragic by turns, his misadventures climax in the arrival in what Mister N. had supposed to be his “real life” of a character from one of his early novels – a vicious militiaman. Now, does the old writer need to arm himself . . . or just seek psychiatric help?

Read an Excerpt
EBook: £9.99

About the Book

  • Luke Leafgren discusses translating Mister N for Asymptote Journal, here.
  • You can read an excerpt of Mister N on the website, here.
  • If you subscribed to And Other Stories by 24th October 2021, you would have received your limited edition copy of Mister N – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – in February 2022, before its official publication, as well as up to five other specially selected And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.
Translator: Luke Leafgren
Original language: Arabic
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 17 May 2022
ISBN: 9781913505325
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505332
Availability: World English


Hala Kodmani

‘It’s as though Najwa Barakat wanted to embody, in the person of her lunatic hero, all the chaos, the surfeit of suffering being experienced by her homeland and by her fellow citizens. And she does so with remarkable ingenuity.’

Marjorie Bertin
Le Courrier de L'atlas

‘With this novel, Lebanese author Najwa Barakat leads us into a psychological puzzle . . . part Shutter Island, part Jorge Luis Borges.’

Eglal Errera
Le Monde des livres

‘A singular thriller of identity that keeps the reader in suspense until the final shattering twist.’    

Ashraf Al-Hisani

‘The human condition is a central focus for Barakat. Through her novels, she strives to build a new person, upholding his dignity and his right to express himself and to live in peace. Barakat searches for the causes of the pain and violence that is exercised upon man, and in doing so, she celebrates the lives of the misfortunate and those defeated by our inexorable reality.’

Ahmad Shawqi Ali

‘For her protagonist, Najwa Barakat has chosen a psychologically disturbed man, opening for herself and the reader space in which to experience solitude, cruelty and anxiety, and to contemplate the power of language to generate pleasure nevertheless.’

Al-Muthana Al-Shaykh Atiya

‘Barakat continues to use the poetic, visionary language for which she is known, even as she adapts this language remarkably to capture her complicated subject . . . It is difficult – even for those well-practised in the art of reviewing novels – to capture the beauty of her writing.’