... a compelling mélange of memoir and historical reckoning in Ruth Diver’s clear-eyed English translation ... Majdalani is great at conjuring an atmosphere of unease, the sense that something is about to give ... Regardless of how much one knows of Lebanon’s troubled past, the succession of dates gathers an ominous velocity, hurtling toward its doomed end. Yet the text’s desultory form, delivering in poignant fragments day by elastic day, hour by ordinary hour, preserves an essential uncertainty—perhaps even a hope that the future might yet be otherwise ... Rereading the diary, I find that ambiguity instructive; the present carries the past’s unresolved baggage. That nuance, unfortunately, seems lost in translation...Diver’s translation, otherwise, is smooth and readable, and does justice to the anxieties that lurk at the heart of Beirut 2020 ... what Beirut 2020 reassembles from the wreckage is a composite image of collective survival, exercises in making sense of incomprehensible suffering.
... powerful and original ... The broad dysfunction is interwoven with personal details, which brings the crisis alive ... if much of the book’s emotional power is channelled through its coverage of daily life in 2020, its analytical force is found in the broader themes it considers.
... penetrating ... The author’s frustration is palpable, but he takes heart in the 'spontaneous movement' of young activists who took to the streets to clear away rubble and 'fight against the ruling class.' The result is a razor-sharp reckoning with a tragedy decades in the making.