The Silence and the Roar, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


With The Silence and the Roar, Nihad Sirees writes a powerful, life-affirming and Kafkaesque novel about a censored writer trying to live a normal life under a Middle Eastern dictatorship, Syria. Fathi, a writer no longer permitted to write, makes his way through a city churned by parades for an unnamed dictator.

It is a day stifled by heat and the noise of the chants, a day of people trampled, and of the brutality and bullying of the party faithful.

But Fathi presses treacherously against the crowd, attempting just to visit his mother and his girlfriend.

The Silence and the Roar is a personal, urgent, funny and aggrieved novel.

It asks what it means to have a conscience, or to laugh, or to endure in a time of the violence, strangeness and roar of tyranny.

It is both a true literary achievement and an act of real courage by a brilliant Syrian writer. Nihad Sirees' The Silence and the Roar is translated from the Arabic by Max Weiss and published by Pushkin Press Nihad Sirees was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1950.

After training and working as an engineer, he became an acclaimed novelist, playwright and screenwriter. After finding himself under increasing surveillance and pressure from the Syrian government, in 2012 he left for Egypt and now lives and works in exile.




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"The Silence & The Roar" makes for tough reading--in all the right ways. It shares certain features with many of the classic examples of literature under oppression, from the persistent nature of surveillance to the arbitrariness of government officials to attempts to compromise the integrity of the protagonist. But Sirhees places his story in what is clearly a Ba'athist environment, a hot and sweaty country struggling with secular and religious forces right alongside the challenges of dictatorship. It is a compelling read, and the afterword is touching.

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