The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees

Next up as part of my contribution to the Middle East Reading Challenge is the novel The Silence and the Roar by Syrian writer Nihad Sirees. Set in the capital city of an  unnamed Arab country, it’s the story of blacklisted writer Fathi and his somewhat futile attempts to maintain his sense of freedom and individuality despite the  machinations of the almighty dictator and his ever-present secret police. Fathi’s life mainly consists of sexual encounters with his girlfriend, avoiding government-orchestrated street rallies,  and wishing he could get his writing past the regime’s sensors. One day his rather mundane life takes an odd turn when he learns his widowed mother is engaged to marry the dictator’s security chief. And if things can’t get any stranger, he’s told the regime is using the impending marriage to co-opt him into the dictatorship in hopes of making him its star propagandist.

While it didn’t completely rock my world, I thought The Silence and the Roar came across as being a pretty decent novel. The action moved fairly quickly, meaning to me anyway it’s well-written and well-translated from the original Arabic. Sirees’ slightly Kafkaesque approach in telling the story seems both an entertaining and appropriate way to lampoon the absurdities of a modern Middle Eastern dictatorship. I’m thankful that I stumbled upon this novel during a recent library visit. It makes a nice contribution to not only the Middle East Reading Challenge but also the Books in Translation Reading Challenge, the Global Reading Challenge, the Library Books Reading Challenge and the Back to School Reading Challenge. And for that, I’m thankful as well.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Arab World, Area Studies/International Relations, Fiction, Middle East/North Africa

6 responses to “The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees

  1. Cool to hit so many challenges with one book! This does sound interesting — I wonder if I know enough to understand the lampooning.

  2. Sounds like an interesting and rather different read – and many of the things you describe sound familiar to anyone who has ever lived under a dictatorship. So some truly universal themes there.

    • Absolutely! I just finished Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 and one can see many similarities when it comes to life in a totalitarian society. (Great book by the way. Can’t wait to post a review. Thanks for dropping by my blog!!

  3. Pingback: Looking Back on 2013: My Favorite International Fiction | Maphead's Book Blog

  4. Pingback: Syrian Dust: Reporting from the Heart of the War by Francesca Borri | Maphead's Book Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s