Road to Chlifa Background

Road to Chlifa Background

Road to Chlifa is a novel written by Michele Marineau and published in 1992. This work is sectioned into three parts, each narrated by a unique source and thereby providing the reader with different perspectives with which to understand the protagonist, seventeen year old Karim Nakad, and his various journeys in his world.

Michele Marineau is a Canadian author and translator who lives with her husband, also a writer, in Quebec, Canada. Marineau, though now with a career in the writing world, studied medicine, art history, and translation at the university level. She has not only worked as a freelance editor, but she has also written a children’s books, Cassiopée ou l'été polonais, which was highly praised and won the Governor General's Award for French-language children's literature, a great honor. In addition, La Route de Chlifa was first published in 1992 in French, won multiple awards and received much praise in the literary community, before it was translated and published in 1995 into English, as Road to Chlifa.

Road to Chlifa narrates the story of Karim Nakad, who has moved from Lebanon to Montreal to escape the civil war tearing apart the country. Karim oftentimes writes in his diary, recounting his many dreams and memories, and he also writes to his friend named Bbechir, and the reader will soon realize the importance of these two things and Karim’s perspective on how his story is told.

Section One is narrated by both Karim, through his diary entries and his own thoughts, as well as by one of his peers, whom the reader never meets or is ever even identified in the novel. This section is already set in Montreal, where Karim is given much attention: loved by the girls and somewhat shunned by the boys. Already, Road to Chlifa starts digging deep into the themes of racism and immigration and discrimination in this first section.

As the novel continues on and the plot continues to develop with Karim’s also complicating journey as he grows older in Canada, we get to know him and his story better, deeply entangled in the themes of moving, assimilating, and forming new friendships and relationships. Love, hate, and compromise also play pivotal roles in Road to Chlifa, as Karim navigates life in Canada, devoid of a civil war but full of discrimination and hate, all the same.

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