- Series: Hoopoe Fiction
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Hoopoe Fiction; Translation edition (October 15, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9774167813
- ISBN-13: 978-9774167812
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.7 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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No Knives in the Kitchens of This City: A Novel (Hoopoe Fiction) Translation Edition
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"Khaled Khalifa writes about his native city with sensuality and an almost feral intensity . . . . No Knives in the Kitchens of This City offers a glimpse into how terrified and empty of hope the people of a city must be to rise up in revolt. The future offers them nothing. It is a castle of closed doors. . . . The sights, smells and horror of living in Aleppo come pounding to life in this book. The place, to me, is no longer an abstraction, and Mr. Khalifa clearly fears for its fate throughout."--New York Times
"One of the rising stars of Arab fiction . . . a rare public voice."--New York Times
"Critically acclaimed . . . [No Knives in the Kitchens of this City] traces the degrading and destructive impact of Syria's dictatorship on the lives of a family from Aleppo."--Financial Times
"Intricately plotted, chronologically complicated and a pleasure to read. . . . The writing is superb--a dense, luxurious realism pricked with surprising metaphors. It is lyrical, sensuous and so semantically rich that at times it resembles a prose poem . . . . A sad but beautiful book, providing important human context to the escalating Syrian tragedy."--The Guardian
"Khalifa writes a raw, exquisite account of the Assad regime's loosening grip on [Syria] and the accompanying chaos."--Washington Independent Review of Books
"Required reading for anyone who wants to better understand the roots of the uprising and current conflict in Syria."--Literary Hub
"A searing indictment of the Syrian regime."--The National
The poetry and lyricism of the prose make for an easy and compelling read. . . . The author gives us an encapsulated view of the region s political and social history from the First World War to the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. A very timely read. PowellsBooks.Blog
Magnificent . . . offers a bigger vision, reminding us that all politics are personal. Barnes & Noble Review
"It's a nuanced, sensual read which should leave the reader thinking about Aleppo's future and whose hands (or knives) will shape it."--Washington Independent Review of Books
About the Author
Khaled Khalifa was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1964. A founding editor of the literary magazine Alif, he is the author of four novels, including In Praise of Hatred. He has also written numerous scripts for TV dramas and films, several of which have won awards, and screenplays for several feature films. No Knives in the Kitchens of This City was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013 and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014.
Leri Price is the translator of Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred.
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There are so many characters in No Knives that I had trouble keeping track of who was what. I actually made a notecard with their names and roles, which helped a lot. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable. There was a lot of weird sex in this novel and I found myself wondering how the narrator knew the details of his mother, sister and uncle’s sex lives. It was vaguely disturbing.
This book is supposed to be good and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014 but I just couldn’t get into it. I might have abandoned it if it wasn’t for my book club. Other members of my book club felt the same way. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Will consider using this in the future for my students to understand the relationship between the self and society.
This book, too, revolves around a household of mostly females. Like “In Praise of Hatred” the females are reclusive and have given up on life. There they kept embalmed butterflies on display; here they keep a stuffed eagle. Both are metaphors, as is the mold growing on the house's walls.
Like “In Praise of Hatred” one of the women rebels; falls in love with a military man from “the other sect”; and runs away. Here, though, she comes back beaten. There are men, too: a gay character and a shy musician-turned-Jihadist.
The actual protagonist is the city, Aleppo. Its soul has been broken after the repression in the early '80s. Life under Assad's rule is asfixiating. Sadness reigns. No character is happy: either they can't find love. Some have stopped looking. All are burdened by shame. The novel begins with a death and ends with another death. It also borrows its title from the last words of a suicidal man.
“No Knives in The Kitchens of This City” has been written during the Syrian civil war, which isn't mentioned but looms large in the reader's mind. As you read, you understand Syria why Syria got to where it is now. You also weep for a city that is no more.
It helps that Khalifa is an impressive writer. Sentences border on poetry: “Rashid and Sawsan gleefully tore up all pages of my books and flung them into the air so they would fall like snowflakes Sawsan used to dream of walking beneath, at the side of a lover who would lead her by the hand over the bridges of a faraway city and kiss her tenderly till evening fell (p. 12.) Or “she was a paper airplane in a grey sky afraid of the long journey ahead.” (p. 56)
This man is one the greatest living novelists.