At over 250 pages long, Y Knots, a collection of short fiction, is longer than many novels. As such, the book is immersive and expansive, pulling the reader into depths, days, and daydreams; streets, homes, and souls. The place is very often Dubai or Lebanon, and the people within it may be inhabitants or visitors, couples or singles, students or academics – including, very often, the author himself.
New Cinnamon Press imprint Liquorice Fish aims to publish books which envelop and entirely transport the reader, something achieved from the very first page, sentence and word of Y Knots. What’s most apparent to me from the start, too, is that Omar Sabbagh is a voracious writer (and reader) who naturally swims in the most literary of waters.
The prose is by turns lofty, lyrical, and liquid; florid, feisty, or fecund. Whether he’s discussing literature, politics, philosophy, detailing a person’s “voice like the colour of his ghost-grey goatee beard” or a man’s “large bald head like a waxen, yellow-pink bowling ball”, or even contemplating his latest wank, there are shades of James Joyce and a touch of Dickens, with a true love of language and words joyfully apparent.
Beyond this, the stories themselves ebb and flow, and, on occasion, flood, winding their way, meandering and ribboning, rather river-like; ideas of the self, society, and meaning are contemplated within these clear waters; and there’s a clever, reflective sense to the flow, too, which, like any great body of water, can bring together an innumerable number of ideas and influences. Altogether, Y Knots is very engaging and high-end stuff. Be transported! And read this intelligent, imaginative, and very finely written book.
Y Knots, Omar Sabbagh (Cinnamon Press/Liquorice Fish)
Price: £10.99. info: here
words MAB JONES