By Janneken Øverland, in Bokmagasinet, Norway, June 2019
There are no knives in the kitchens of the city is the brilliant, depressive, rolling and falling history of a family from Aleppo starting in 1960 to 2000.
Within less than 300 pages Syrian author Khaled Khalifa manages to squeeze in so much misery, humor, death, war, sex, food, and so many family members that the reader along the way must stop to breathe deeply and check the family tree which fortunately exists at the front of the book.
Khaled Khalifa is Syria’s perhaps most famous contemporary writer and got in 2013 Naguib Mahfouz Medal, handed out to the best Arabic book of the year. (…)
This book also more generally represents the results of a failed policy on humans. In big sweeps, and some close-up pictures, we see its social and psychological impact.
With this lush and very readable collective story the author offers a reverent bow both to Naguib Mahfouz’ “Midaqq alley” and Alaa al-Aswanys’ Yacoubian building”.