“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: Short Read, Contemporary Fiction, Literature & Fiction
From his childhood in Egypt to his immigration to the United States, Dr. Sabri g. Bebawi has assembled scores of incidents, which weave a tapestry of his life with candor, honesty and intelligence in his book, A Dream Is Just That: An Interminable Journey from Egypt to America.
A foreign upbringing by American standards, Dr. Bebawi began his book by telling tales of his childhood in an Egyptian oasis called Fayoum. As virtually any childhood parallels in human emotion those of children around the world, his intellectual curiosity and passion for truth filled his world around the Egyptian dust and dirt, religious laws and culture, giving him a rather unique upbringing. Being from a family of wealth, he was afforded comforts and education; however all was not at peace within his youth. Instances of naivety while being sexually abused, and witnessing indescribably bizarre events, etched a permanent chasm of ideological awareness of life in his developing mind.
From the frailty of being a victim of various childhood diseases, he relied on his one physical characteristic of strength, his mind, for survival. This prowess has manifested itself in his literary achievements in journalism, authorship, and achieving his PhD in English as a part of his higher education. After his autobiographical account of his upbringing and family, the book shifts to America, the “Land of Freedom,” so he thought. What are described are incidents of hardship, legal abuse, financial slavery and class struggles in society; which Dr. Bebawi cleverly juxtaposes against his Egyptian culture. He concludes there are more similarities than differences, and human nature is eerily constant within the various geographical and political environmental regions of the world. I must admit I found a tidbit of arrogance in his written voice, as he describes legal battles and confrontational issues with established American corporate behemoths over policies of customer apathy.
Dr. Bebawi found a call to action as he became the self-appointed spokesperson for the less articulate and educated masses; as he single-handedly attempted to change American society. His battle was brought all the way to The White House where he received a customary reply thanking him for his concern; but leaving the situation unchanged. Hence A Dream is Just That…..a dream. This book is surprisingly compelling and difficult to put down. It reads rather swiftly due to the layout of short “scenes” intermixed with very interesting photographs and exhibits. The single most quality which resonates throughout his writing is truth. This, I imagine, comes from his years of journalistic work, but is obviously rooted in his morality and his own core values. With all of the turmoil going on in the world, especially from his homeland of Egypt, I found this to be extraordinarily timely and pertinent. Americans need to see ourselves not from within our culture, but from foreign observations, to realize some of the truths and rights we hold to be self-evident are a part of the American Dream, and A Dream Is Just That.
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Ethnic & National
Chiara is a 22 year-old-girl who has just graduated with a degree in Art History. She travels to Rome and lives with one of her mother’s friends, Sofia. Chiara falls in love with Sofia’s nephew, Professor Rafi Curti. Several events take place and Chiara finds that her mother slept with Rafi and her father with Sofia. She later discovers that Rafi is engaged to one of his students at the university of Florence, Italy. The novel has a surprising conclusion.
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Dramas & Plays, Regional & Cultural, United States
For the main character of Sabri Bebawi God On Trial, each moment brings a torment of some kind. The character is extremely intelligent and yet disturbed by thoughts that never cease, as well as memories that evoke strong responses, eventually leading to a confusion of time and current reality. Indeed, as time progresses, the confusion grows worse; his reality rarely merges with truth. Paranoia and hallucinations take over his mind and thoughts, provoking dangerous responses on his part. As this deterioration advances, his connection with his wife becomes tenuous in that she is not able to understand the dimensions of his personal reality.
He may have little intellectual connection with his wife, but one portion of his thoughts remains largely coherent. In an attempt to gain some recompense for his suffering—and possibly to protect others from similar problems—he wishes to put God on trial. With little sleep or rest, he begins to gather the data needed for such a task even as his life begins to fall apart. His rage against God takes on new proportions as he develops the case; reviewing Holy Scripture, he in fact finds God culpable in the most heinous of crimes against humanity. The case envelops his imaginings, isolating him from those who care about him most. This disturbed man is presented in Bebawi novel as a remarkably compassionate person who has experienced the worst of life in his various ailments. He is certainly representative of much of the reader’s own private questionings of God and the trials that are faced by even the most innocent.
Even in the midst of obvious hallucinations, he provides a lucid argument against God, definitely not the ravings of a madman. And yet mental illness is one of his problems, the most prominent one during the action of the novel. Following his thoughts through various mental states, the writing in Bebawi book is chaotic but not confounding; it is more disconcerting in that the reader witnesses the suffering of such a kind and intelligent man in the midst of mania and delusion. Bebawi skillfully leads the reader through the meanderings of his mind and leaves the indelible impression of a man who did not deserve his fate. Too, the writing is obviously sympathetic toward those with mental illness without being condescending or overly dramatic in its representation. By presenting the argument against God within the context of the thoughts of a mentally ill person, Bebawi may be providing a “safe” place for such discussion. Some may dismiss the case that the character is developing as that of delusion, and yet there are those in the novel who find it remarkable.
Following the main character as he gathers his information from the various religious texts, the reader may make a similar conclusion. Or, if religious, he or she might simply find a common ground with this man in his suffering and the rage caused by it. Bebawi leaves such a decision up to the reader and his or her conscience. This intricate story is so captivating with such vivid, detailed characters, that readers will fall in love with this book. Even within the space of a short novel, Sabri Bebawi is able to present difficult—and often private—questions of life, God, and reality in the harsh existence of a mentally ill man. Through smooth prose that expresses the man’s desires, Bebawi provides the reader with not necessarily the answer to whether or not God is guilty of crimes against humanity, but rather the context in which to begin answering those questions. The fictional space of the book provides only the beginning of this discussion, and yet it is a powerful beginning.
Genre: Short Story, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
In writing these stories, the writer discovers the simple assumption that we are all the same inside. We share the same feelings, emotions, dilemmas, and tribulations regardless of where we come from or live; we are all under the same moon. While there are no super-humans, there are many questionable ones; nevertheless, our inner souls are connected and our daily lives are somewhat and somehow interwoven.
These short-shorts, from the author perspective, have a unique implication. The moral is that much of what happens in our lives depicts an elusive spiral of fatality that can touch the existence of many of us, though we are not necessarily physically connected. The author hopes that his readers will relate to some of the characters, who all tango under the same moon, and to the events as they develop and unfold.
Genre: Short Stories
This is an objective endeavor to reveal how two worlds far apart: Egypt and the US are indeed parallel in various respects: Hypocrisy and duplicity, religious fervor and vehemence, corruption and depravity, moral deficiency and exploitation.
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
An Academic Writing Text designed to help learners with basic writing skills, enhance critical thinking skills and develop and refine communication skills. This edition includes extensive grammar review.
Consider The Following: Writing Simplified With Grammar by Sabri G. Bebawi Ph.D.
A writing course for ESL/EFL and native speakers. The course includes an extensive grammar review.
Genre: Education & Teaching, Schools & Teaching, Certification & Development
Sabri Bebawi, born in 1956 in Fayoum, Egypt. He attended law school at Cairo University. He left Egypt for the United Kingdom. Oxford University invited him during the fourth and last year of Law School. He never returned to Egypt. A few years later, after living and working as a journalist in England, Italy, France, and Cyprus, he took political refuge in the United States. He has been teaching ESL, English, Journalism, and graduate Educational Technology courses. He studied for more graduate work at UCLA and got a PhD degree in Philosophy, English Education and Distance Learning from Capella University.
Although English is his third language, Bebawi has published many articles, books, and essays on eclectic topics. It has always been his ambition to write novels. This is his second try; his first has been successful; God on Trial has won several awards including a British Literary Award in 2015. That English is a third language to Bebawi, writing a novel has always been preoccupying and challenging.
As a child, Sabri Bebawi struggled to make sense of the world and of human nature. He knew of the human condition. As he grew older, and studied law, and the “not so holy” books, he developed a more pragmatic and sensible stance; the world became just a mirage, an illusion and a mere phantasm. Bebawi waits for that to come day when religions, conformity, capitalism, republicanism, and corrupt governments are eradicated. He believes in John Lennon’s immortal lyrics, “Imagine.”
What makes you proud to be a writer from (Long Beach, California)? I have been an American citizen for forty years and I am not very proud of that. I am originally a lawyer and a journalist. When I came to this forsaken country, I worked as a journalist and media personnel for a while. Writing has always been with me since childhood. I am proud to be a writer because, like being a university professor, I can pass the candle light of knowledge from one person to another, for those who want to learn and know.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? Becoming a writer, I believe, does not need someone to be an inspiration; it is an innate characteristics. I have been writing since childhood. I wrote memoirs every single night for as long as I can remember. But I must say my inspiration in all is my Supreme Court Justice father, with whom I practiced law and learned everything that I know.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Yes, this is a very good question. My upbringing in a fascist dictatorship taught me what dictatorship is and that is why I detest Donald Trump because he is familiar to me. Also, because Egypt is a religiously fanatic country, I grew up detesting religion in general for seeing first-hand religions’ hypocrisy and evil. So, absolutely, I owe it all to Egypt, no country, except the United States, is as phony as Egypt.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Being published was never an aim at all. I only wrote; however, I have always hoped that my thoughts would become known and recognized. I started writing to publish when I became a University Professor and wrote textbooks.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Writing itself is very rewarding for it teaches the writer a lot about the writer’s self. I have always written that novels have a life of their own. One starts and does not know where it is going until it is finished. I always wonder, “have I written that, really?”
How many published books do you have? I think among the educational textbooks, I have about 17 books published.
Please introduce your main genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? Besides educational books, I love to write novels that relate to reality. I do not like Science Fiction or unrealistic tales. My work, like Woody Allan’s, has to relate to the “Human Condition.”
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write without thinking of money or success. Write your true and real thoughts; if they make it, that is great. If they don’t, it is great for you and those who know you
Who is your favorite author and why? Certainly, I love many authors since I am an avid reader. I love Dostoevsky and his style of representation and settings. As an Egyptian, I also love the victim of the bloody Islamists, the Noble Price Winner for Literature, my friend Naguib Mahfouz for his honesty and bravery in a country that these two elements do not exist.
Selections From Sabri G. Bebawi Ph.D.