The Storyteller


*Shortlisted for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize*

The enthralling search for a missing father

Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. His only clues are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. The Storyteller follows Samir’s search for Brahim, the father whose heart was always yearning for his homeland, Lebanon. In this moving and gripping novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures to reveal the intimate story of an exiled family torn apart by civil war and guilt. In this rich and skillful account, Jarawan proves that he too is a masterful storyteller.

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This book was published with the support of the Goethe-Institut






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Publication date

4 April, 2019




Pierre Jarawan

Pierre Jarawan was born in 1985 to a Lebanese father and a German mother and moved to Germany with his family… Read more


Book Club Questions

  1. The Storyteller is set in both Germany and Lebanon: how do these two landscapes compare (and contrast) within the novel?
  2. Compare the reactions of Samir and his mother to losing their father/husband. Do they express their grief in similar ways?
  3. How do each of the characters change throughout the course of the book?
  4. Does their way of grieving seem healthy? Is it something you have any control over?
  5. Samir goes to Lebanon to look for his father. Do you think this was a good idea? Why? Why not? Should he have gone earlier? Later?
  6. Other than his father, what did he hope to find there?
  7. Do you think Samir’s father was right to return to Lebanon? Why/why not?
  8. Who are the people that helped Samir in his journey? In what ways did they help?
  9. What defines the terms “family” and “home”?
  10. The history of Lebanon is a central part of the book: What do you know about the current affairs of this region? And, from the events related within the book itself, what do you think the main problems are in Lebanon, and can you see any solutions? How does this compare to your country?
  11. In what ways could Germany and Lebanon be said to be the same?
  12. How do you think Samir feels upon his return to Germany? What do you think the future holds for him?
  13. What can you say about Samir’s mother’s relationship to the other members of her family? Do you think she enjoyed living in Germany? Do you think she also longed to return to Lebanon? Why?
  14. In what ways were Yasmin’s and Samir’s experiences in Germany the same? In what ways do they differ?
  15. Following the death of their mother, Samir’s sister was taken to a foster family while Samir was left with friend of the family, Hakim. Was this the best thing for Samir? What else could have been done in this situation?
  16. This book also testifies to the power of storytelling, and to an oral storytelling tradition. What does Jarawan have to say about the importance of stories? What are stories able to do for us?
  17. Samir’s father turns his friends into animals for the basis of the bedtime stories he tells to his son: Why does he do this? How do you think it helps him?

Translator Video





‘Jarawan’s style is pacy and unadorned, with a narrative design that urges you on.’
The Observer

‘A literary debut of astounding maturity, refinement, and narrative power’ —Literatur Abendzeitung

‘Jarawan’s narrative is captivating, fast-paced, and true to life—a fascinating exploration of the question of what it means to be influenced by several cultures at the same time’ —Frankfurter Neue Presse

‘His masterful debut successfully interweaves historical events with a suspense-filled investigation of one family’s fate in a novel that deeply moves its readers.’ —New Books in German

‘In a sweeping style reminiscent of oriental storytelling, Jarawan tells of escape, migration, and a family torn between two cultures. His debut succeeds in bringing foreign culture into focus and awakens in the reader a fascination with the Land of the Cedars.’ —Kulturtipp

‘A love letter to Lebanon.’
What Cathy Read Next

‘With this beautiful family tale, Jarawan opens your eyes to Lebanon.’
MANDA HEDDEMA, Boekhandel De Koperen Tuin

‘Hands-down one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.’
From Cover to Cover

‘The characters search for a sort of Holy Grail, a mystical solution to complicated problems, and they don’t find it.’
Asymptote Journal

‘Deserves to be huge.’
Ignoring Life Blog

‘Expansive and engaging.’
David’s Book World