Sabri Bebawi

The middle of five children, Sabri George Bebawi was born in 1956 in the town of Fayoum, Egypt. He attended law school at Cairo University. His refusal to carry arms and follow Arab orders to kill Jews forced him to flee from Egypt. He then left for the United Kingdom. He was invited to study at Oxford University, where he spent a semester, and he never returned to Egypt. A few years later, after living and working in England, Italy, France, and Cyprus, he took refuge in the United States. This has been the biggest mistake he has made in his life. Sadly, it could never be fixed, as he had given up all other nationalities and residences. He became an instructor of English as a second language. Later, after more studies, he became a professor of English, journalism, teachers’ training, and educational technology. He studied for more graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, and obtained a PhD in education and distance learning from Capella University while taking courses at UCLA.

Although English is his third language, he has published many works on eclectic topics. Divine Comedy is his third novel. His first novel, God on Trial, has been surprisingly successful; it has won many awards, including a British literary award in 2015. As English is a foreign language to him, the task of writing the perfect novel has always been challenging.

As a child, Sabri Bebawi struggled to make sense of the world. He grew up terrified of God and the world. As he grew older and studied law, as well as all the holy books, he developed a more pragmatic and sensible stance; the word god became just that—a word. And the world became just a mirage. Bebawi waits for that certain-to-come day when all religions, conformity, capitalism, republicanism, and inhumanity are eradicated. He wishes America well, though it appears to him that it is a little too late; evil forces have possessed America, and no one knows how. Bebawi is currently a fellow of the Salzburg Institute on Globalization in Austria. He lectures on the negative effects of globalization on poor and abused nations.

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Divine Comedy by Sabri Bebawi

“Divine Comedy” is a comical take on life’s medical and personal challenges. Though it is based on a one man’s real life, it is in the form of fiction since the fine line between real life and fiction is very thin and can often be crossed.

Pacific Book Review: What is reality and what is fiction? Do any of us really know in the end? This is something which the author, and in turn the reader, ponders throughout this novel by Sabri Bebawi titled Divine Comedy. How can one man face so many medical obstacles in a single lifetime? Can one man have such fervent love affairs with so many exotic women and yet never seem to really find true love? Life is, after all, a Divine Comedy. As the author wrote, “There are only two ways to react to life’s trials and tribulations: either to become frustrated, bitter, angry and feeling sorrow, or to see all as events as comical and, somewhat, wacky.”

Bebawi does a great job of reiterating his book’s theme throughout the novel. There is no doubt left upon the readers of this book exactly what the author set out to accomplish through his unique style of storytelling. The revolving mention of Divine Comedy is interwoven in almost every chapter; showing life can be full of twists, turns and upside downs, as well as times of beauty and love. This point was well articulated throughout the storytelling of the book.

As an uncommon angle throughout the story, the narrator has a wondering eye along with an enticing way with the ladies, leaving me wondering what void the character was trying to fill. I believe this humanized the character in a great way and showed great restraint. I believe what outwardly was shown as a strength was indeed something which many would look upon as a great weakness.

On the surface this book is easy to read, however to grasp the connectedness of the writing is a bit more challenging, requiring to slow down at times to absorb the deeper meaning of the story. While the words and overall thoughts flowed well, the reader needs to allow for the theme to be revealed, otherwise one may find something in the story missing. I believe the rhythm of this author is uniquely different than all others I have experienced. The reveal of the story is only the beginning of the journey; thus the strength in his writing is accomplished with the addition of allowing time for mulling over the underlying irony of the character’s awareness, affording the philosophical undercurrent to rise from just the reading of the words.

The author did a excellent job of reminding us of the ever-changing nature of our world. Bebawi threaded a similar situation repeatedly, although the ailments and the faces changed. The ability to be true to a theme while still introducing new challenges and ideas allow Bebawi to truly master the writing of this book.

Bebawi leaves the readers to decide what is factual and what is fictional within the book. It makes for the reader to always wonder about the threads of reality which is exactly the point of Divine Comedy. Overall, I found Divine Comedy by Sabri Bebawi to be a charming, unique story, full of adventure and emotion, with a creative edge for storytelling.

Book Review: Divine Comedy by Sabri Bebawi is a short, but intense read. The story is a stormy one told by the main character named Alexandre Akpors. Alexander shares with the reader on an intimate level his life from the age thirty-five to well into his late fifties.

As a woman, I found this book hard to read, but I am very glad that I read to the end. This book is for adults and I suggest you lay your own personal and world views aside, so you can read with an open mind. I personally do not agree with the religious, political and economic views of Alexander, but my heart and mind listened to his story. We all have a story to tell, ours is factual and this story, I will leave it up to you to determine.

This is perhaps the most important quote that I can share from the book: “The divine comedy is life, and life is a divine comedy; therefore, there is no ceasing. I continued to look at every day’s affairs as a form of divine comedy and to smile at all things, whether they were positive or negative; I saw them merely as the divine comedy of human existence. As the great Dante wrote, “There is no greater sorrow than to be mindful of the happy time in misery.” I am relentlessly mindful. I am continuously aware. Again, as the great Charles Dickens wrote in his masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” All is just the same except our mindfulness of the happy time when desolation strikes. I, Alexandre Akpors, have been here and there, at times stretching the fine line between fiction and reality and at other times jumping the line altogether. I have done this so often that I normally have no idea which side I am living on: fiction or nonfiction.”

My assessment of the character: He is self-indulged primarily due to his life experiences and has a narrow view of how others live and think. I have not walked in his shoes, but the very fact that he uses the word “Divine” over and over gives me hope that through it all, he will come to the truth when he finds himself at the end of his life’s journey.

About the author: Sabri George Bebawi was born in Egypt in 1956. He is well-educated, an avid reader and is a professor of English. He has acquired training in journalism, teachers training, and educational technology. His first novel, God on Trial, has won many awards, including a British literary award in 2015. This is an important quote about the author, “Bebawi waits for that certain-to-come day when all religions, conformity, capitalism, republicanism, and inhumanity are eradicated. He wishes America well, though it appears to him that it is a little too late; evil forces have possessed America, and no one knows how.”

I reiterate, I do not agree with the character’s views, but I am happy that I read ‘Divine Comedy’ all the way to the end. I came away with a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings in my own life. I have to admit that my emotions were all over the place as I read Alexandre Akpors’ story. Personally, I conclude that this story is told with brutal honesty. Fact or Fiction, I will leave it up to you to decide.

I, Theodocia McLean (Cold Coffee Press) endorse Divine Comedy by Sabri Bebawi as a personal tragedy which the character refers to as “Divine Comedy”. I give this book 5 stars because the character Alexandre Akpors is brutally honest. If you are reading this, it is because you live in a country that affords you the freedom to do so. Freedom must be protected at all cost. I purchased this book from Kindle and this review was completed on October 18, 2017.

Genre: Literature & Fiction

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