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The Dark Side of Love Paperback – March 31, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. LIke the mythopoeic India of Salman Rushdie™s Midnight™s Children, the main protagonist of Schami™s encyclopedic, jigsaw puzzle of a novel is a country: Syria. In telling the story of a Romeo and Juliet–like romance between Farid Mushtak and Rana Shahin, two teens in Damascus in the late 1950s, Schami goes back through their family history, to the Ottoman era, and forwards to 1970. The baroque feud between their families is a microcosm of the internal, patriarchal violence from which the whole country suffers. George Mushtak and his bride, Laila, appear in the Christian village of Mala and begin to make inroads on the power base of Mala™s most powerful man, Jusuf Shahin, beginning a multigenerational feud that creates a legacy of violence—George persecutes his own, Elias, who flees to Damascus, and Elias in turn persecutes his son, Farid; Rana well remembers how her aunt was the victim of an honor killing. Rana™s bullying brother, Jack, marries her off; Farid goes from a punitive stay in a monastery to intensifying persecution and incarceration because of his dissident politics. Through Farid and Rana™s romance, Schami gives voice to the entire chorus of Damascus life. Which is why, despite the grim plot line of revenge, this is essentially a joyous book, an exile™s book of love and a surprisingly fast read. Schami, a major international talent, has a broad range, from the scatological to the sexually comic to the painful, and deserves to establish an American audience. (July)
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A doorstop of a novel, this story of love and blood feuds set in Damascus, filled with myths and legends and enough tragedy to last a few lifetimes, opens with a murder and goes deep into a century of Syria's history, politics and religion. Break out the baklava and let it rain. Louisa Ermelino --Publishers Weekly

"Romeo and Juliet meets Arturo Pérez-Reverte and John le Carré in the dusty streets of Damascus in this novel from Syrian-born Schami, a bestselling author in his adopted homeland of Germany. The setup: the body of a Syrian intelligence officer is found in a rather unnatural position that rules out suicide. ... What lies beneath Madhi Said's murder... is anything but monosyllabic. Bit by bit, Schami "This first American edition of a novel initially published in Germany in 2004 introduces Syrian-born Schami to English-speaking audiences. At the forefront of the migrant literature movement in Germany, Schami replicates Romeo and Juliet s tale in his complicated and embellished story of two star-crossed lovers, Farid Mushtak and Rana Shahin. The young lovers meet and fall in love in Damascus during the 1950s and encounter numerous obstacles because of a long-standing family feud between their two Christian families. Schami establishes context by recounting the 1907 events that initiated the feud. Moving forward, the narrative spans Syrian social and political history during the first half of the 20th century; a discussion of Farid s experiences as a political dissident reveal the range of political alliances and coups at that time. VERDICT At almost 900 pages, this book is daunting, but patient readers will enjoy rambling through the streets of Damascus, a city that Schami clearly loves and evokes effectively and affectionately. An important contribution to Syrian literature." --Library Journal

"...may turn out to be the first Great Syrian Novel. In "The Dark Side of Love", Rafik Schami exploits all the resources of the classic realist novel and then goes a little further, forging a new form out of Syrian orality. His basic unit is not chapter or paragraph, but story; a thousand bejewelled anecdotes and tales are buried here, ready to spring, but each is melded with such dazzling surety into the whole that reading the book is always compulsive...Tolstoyan in its marrying of the personal, social and political spheres, of private with national life...The canvas is vast and closely painted. It feels encyclopedic, in psychological observation as well as social breadth. There are no faux-magical pyrotechnics in the telling, but richly detailed characters working through real situations, characters whose inherited wounds the reader comes to care deeply about. Each is vividly drawn, with quiet and acute intelligence..."The Dark Side of Love" is a fiction that accurately (if selectively) documents Syrian social history. Its sweep reaches from 1907 to 1970, through the French occupation, the chaotic coup years, the rise of the Ba'ath and the disastrous June war. Farid and Rana swim on the great currents of 20th-century Syrian thought - communism, feminism, nationalism, Islamism - and witness the poisoning of the waters. Farid's torture scenes are painfully, brilliantly narrated. Relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims, between the countryside and the city, between men and women, and between political factions, are explored with subtlety and honesty. It is translated very well from the German..."The Dark Side of Love" illumines almost every side of love, as well as fear, longing, cruelty and lust. Darkness and light alternate like the basalt and marble stripes on Damascene walls, and the novel's structure is just as strong...as expansive, as comprehensive, as War and Peace." --review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 900 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group; First Edition edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566567807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566567800
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The best and most enjoyable book I have read in years. This book is like a good French film, which in its focus on the everyday life of the main characters unravels the nuances of the local culture and psychology. I say French film, because the book reveals the culture and problems of Damascus and Syria though the conversations and actions of the characters in a way that feels believable and authentic, unlike other films that bludgeon the viewer with their message. In terms of style, skill in execution, interest in the characters, and revelations of culture, I give this book 5 stars. There are two excellent reviews about this book in the Guardian (the best of which is [...]). Oh yes, it's long, but it held my interest on two 9 hour flights. One of those books you don't want to end.
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By Nora on August 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a Syrian I discovered Rafik Schami when I moved outside Syria. This book was a pleasant surprise and a lesson.

Reader should first get use to the style. It is written in 1001 Nights, jumping from one subject to another.

The events are taking place in streets and cities I know, so beside the words, I could see the pictures.

Through this book I learned a lot about politics and Syria and things "you never mention" while you live there. Two months after finishing the book the apprising in Syria began.

Though covered with history the book is describing what was happening in Syria the last 40 years, and what resulted in the current apprising.

Good read, good school. And hopefully one day I will be able to shake hands with Mr. Schami in our beloved Damascus.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is supposed to be "used", but it was absolutely brand new. In perfect condition. The story (stories) in the the book are sheer joy and entertainment. The book is very long and heavy and I find it hard to read it standing up in NY metro. So you have to read it while sitting or lying down. It is a great book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good book on love and life in Arab nation for. Christians citizens
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