For July we’re reading الصمت والصخب لنهاد سيريس / The Silence and the Roar by Syrian author Nihad Sirees. The English translation is by Max Weiss, and won a 2013 English PEN Award.
A brief summary of the book from the publisher, Other Press:
“The Silence and the Roar is a funny, sexy, dystopian novel about the struggle of an individual over tyranny. It follows a day in the life of Fathi Sheen, an author banned from publishing because he refuses to write propaganda for the ruling government. The entire populace has mobilized to celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of the reigning despot in this unnamed Middle eastern country. The heat is oppressive and loudspeakers blare as an endless parade takes over the streets. Desperate to get away from the noise and the zombie-like masses, Fathi leaves his house to visit his mother and his girlfriend, but en route stops to help a student who is being beaten by the police. Fathi’s ID papers are confiscated and he is told to report to the police station before night falls.
When Fathi turns himself in, he is led from one department to another in an ever-widening bureaucratic labyrinth. His only weapon against the irrationality of the government employees is his sense of irony. Tinged with a Kafkaesque sense of the absurd, The Silence and the Roar explores what it means to be truly free in mind and body.”
You can read the first three chapters of the book in Arabic online at Nihad Sirees’ website.
For more on the novel, take a look at Frederick Deknatel’s review in Newsweek, Malcolm Forbes’ review in The National, or listen to interviews Sirees has done with NPR and WNYC. You can also read Siress’ blog post on Other Press upon the book’s English publication, or a Q&A with him on Publishing Perspectives.
Nihad Sirees will be joining our discussion; you can read more about him here. We’ll meet to discuss on Sunday, July 28th, 2013.