All the Battles: A Novel
By Maan Abu Taleb. Robin Moger, tr.
2017, Hoopoe, 9-789-77416-847-5, $17.95 pb.
Reviewed by Brian E. Clark on March 15, 2019
There is more than a whiff of Ernest Hemingway in this compelling, crisply written debut about boxing and society at large. The author hails from Amman, Jordan, the city in which his protagonist, a 28-year-old advertising executive from a middleclass family, looks like an unlikely candidate to become a professional boxer. But he pursues the sport to near-obsession, foregoing his career and his relationship with the upper-class daughter of a surgeon. Mocked for his bourgeois ways when he dives into training at a gym on the wrong side of town, he thrives and wins enough bouts to be noticed by British promoters who offer a sizable purse. When he’s placed on the bill in Dubai, he’s nearly killed in the match. After he recovers in the home of his parents, he empties his locker and drives into the mountains, leaving the reader wondering where he’ll wind up—and hoping it’s not back in the ring.