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The silence and the roar

by Nihad Sirees ; translated from the Arabic by Max Weiss

Publishers Weekly Syrian writer Sirees takes on, with piercing insight, the huge themes of freedom, individuality, integrity, and, yes, love, in this beautiful, funny, and life-affirming novel, his first to be translated into English. On the 20th anniversary of an unnamed despot's rule, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, Fathi Sheen, a silenced writer, is caught in the frenzy of the crowd that "turns all those individuals into droplets in a raging human flood." He runs afoul of the security forces and his ID is confiscated; he arrives at his mother's house to learn that she is planning to marry a man high up in the regime; and on his way to see his girlfriend Lama, "a liberated woman who owns herself," he has a series of absurd encounters as he confronts the noise of the streets-the "roar"-and indulges in laughter and sex to resist the government that would have him "compose poetry that glorifies the leader and write heroic novels." Originally published in 2004, the novel indisputably connects to current events, but its value as art and political commentary is timeless. Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century. Agent: Jane Loudon. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved