Douaihy and Khalifa among the FT’s meaningful contemporary authors with a “powerful style of fiction”

8 October 2015 176 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Douaihy_LaCroixrp_khalifa_khaled.jpgThis article was written by Heba Saleh for the Financial Times. Only a few excerpts are featured below. For the full article, please refer to the Financial Times‘ website. Published on October 6th 2015.
Photo credit: The Guardian, Sedat Suna

As the Arab world grapples with unrest across many of its countries, the Arab novel, a form that has undergone something of a revival in recent years, has found inspiration in the region’s political cataclysms. A powerful style of fiction has emerged that probes subjects relating to freedom, violence, identity, religion and the failure of elites (…)

Recent critically acclaimed novels dealing with the woeful realities of their societies include Khaled Khalifa’s There Are No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, which traces the degrading and destructive impact of Syria’s dictatorship on the lives of a family from Aleppo.

Khaled Khalifa’s There Are No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, which traces the degrading and destructive impact of Syria’s dictatorship on the lives of a family from Aleppo

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Hammour Ziada’s Longing of the Dervish, shortlisted for this year’s IPAF and set in 19th-century Sudan during the collapse of the theocratic state of the Mahdi, the Muslim messiah, also presents a poignant history from the eyes of marginalised people. In a complex series of flashbacks, it follows Bakheet Mandil, a slave, and his love for Theodora, a young Greek woman who comes to the country “to serve God” as a teacher with a group of religious missionaries, only to become enslaved by a follower of the Mahdi. When her master kills her for trying to escape, Bakheet sets out to avenge her by hunting down all those who took part in her murder (…)

Another recent Lebanese novel, Jabbour Douaihy’s The American Neighbourhood, set in the Sunni Muslim city of Tripoli, traces the lives of three generations of the Azzams, a patrician family descended from a nationalist independence hero, and its servants. In the neglected, poor area where Intisar, the cleaner, lives with her family, local notables only appear at election time. A religious association recruits the restless young hovering on the verge of criminality to join al-Qaeda in Iraq; Ismail, Intisar’s son, goes with them. Abdel Karim Azzam locks himself up in his home in the wealthy district listening to opera and longing for the ballerina he loved in Paris, but he becomes a refuge for Intisar and her son. The Tripoli portrayed in this compact, 160-page novel, with its alienated elite, desperate young looking for utopian solutions and rudderless society, is almost a microcosm for the entire Arab world

The Tripoli portrayed in this compact, 160-page novel, with its alienated elite, desperate young looking for utopian solutions and rudderless society, is almost a microcosm for the entire Arab world

(…)

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