Set in Aleppo, the novel follows one family through several generations of pain and tragedy. The plot may be a little convoluted and intricate, but the poetry and lyricism of the prose makes for an easy and compelling read. And although this is a work of fiction, the author gives us an encapsulated view of the region’s political and social history from the First World War to the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. A very timely read. Recommended By Sheila N., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature: an eloquent portrayal of life under dictatorship by an acclaimed Syrian writer
In the once beautiful city of Aleppo, one Syrian family descends into tragedy and ruin. Irrepressible Sawsan flirts with militias, the ruling party, and finally religion, seeking but never finding salvation. She and her siblings and mother are slowly choked in violence and decay, as their lives are plundered by a brutal regime. Set between the 1960s and 2000s, No Knives in the Kitchens of this City unravels the systems of fear and control under Assad. With eloquence and startling honesty, it speaks of the persecution of a whole society.
"Khalifa writes a raw, exquisite account of the Assad regime's loosening grip on [Syria] and the accompanying chaos." Washington Independent Review of Books
"Required reading for anyone who wants to better understand the roots of the uprising and current conflict in Syria." Literary Hub
"Intricately plotted, chronologically complicated and a pleasure to read.... The writing is superb — a dense, luxurious realism pricked with surprising metaphors. It is lyrical, sensuous and so semantically rich that at times it resembles a prose poem.... A sad but beautiful book, providing important human context to the escalating Syrian tragedy." The Guardian
"Khaled Khalifa writes about his native city with sensuality and an almost feral intensity.... No Knives in the Kitchens of This City offers a glimpse into how terrified and empty of hope the people of a city must be to rise up in revolt. The future offers them nothing. It is a castle of closed doors.... The sights, smells and horror of living in Aleppo come pounding to life in this book. The place, to me, is no longer an abstraction, and Mr. Khalifa clearly fears for its fate throughout." New York Times
About the Author
Khaled Khalifa was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1964. A founding editor of the literary magazine Alif, he is the author of four novels, including In Praise of Hatred. He has also written numerous scripts for TV dramas and films, several of which have won awards, and screenplays for several feature films. No Knives in the Kitchens of This City was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013 and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014.
Leri Price is the translator of Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred.