Everyday life as a category of analysis is often used to distinguish extraordinary events from the mundane activities of daily life. For many theorists—Lefebvre and de Certeau most prominently—everyday life emerges as a positive value in that it gives a sense of the reliability of the world and of one’s place within it. Rabih Alameddine addresses, in Koolaids: The Art of War, a necessary revision to the notion of the everyday when the grounding experiences of everyday life are upended by war and illness. The novel is set in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War and San Francisco during the HIV/AIDS crisis. The question Koolaids poses is where one finds grounding in the world when everyday, reliable experiences have been replaced with death as a result of perpetual war or a perpetual virus. I argue that in its representations of sex, death, and art, moments that are both part of everyday life and also moments that disrupt it, Koolaids constructs a notion of the everyday that is transformative in that when disrupted by war and death, it does not become a nostalgic point to go back to for grounding. Koolaids transforms the structure of everyday life into something reliable in order to address how its characters’ world has been radically changed by war and HIV/AIDS. Through a process of addressing war, the virus, and ultimately oneself, Koolaids puts forward a new mode of belonging in a world that is difficult for its characters to comprehend. Thus, Alameddine offers a major intervention in how we relate theories of everyday life to fiction that depicts states of crises.


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pp. 424-452
Launched on MUSE
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