Arabic Literature (in English) - 5 Books to Read Before You Die
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The Dark Side of Love
RRP: Price: £9.99
Haus Price: £7.99 Friends of Haus: £7.49
World except Middle East and North America
A Modern Arabic Novel from Syria
By Rafik Schami
Shortlisted for the 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
Finalist of the 2009 ForeWord Magazine Fiction Award
Winner of the Gold Award for Adult Multicultural Fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2010
A story of forbidden love set against the background of Arabic culture and endless feuds between clans. Now available for the first time in English, an international bestseller translated by the award-winning Anthea Bell, that has sold over 370,000 copies worldwide.
A dead man hangs from the portal of St Paul's Chapel in Damascus. He was a Muslim officer - and he was murdered. But when Detective Barudi sets out to interrogate the man's mysterious widow, the Secret Service takes the case away from him. Barudi continues to investigate clandestinely and discovers the murderer's motive: it is a blood feud between the Mustak and Shahin clans, reaching back to the beginnings of the 20th century. And, linked to it, a love story that can have no happy ending, for reconciliation has no place within the old tribal structures.
'The Dark Side of Love' is a novel which spans a century of Syrian history in which politics and religion continue to torment an entire people, while at the same time the stories from three generations tell of the courage of lovers who risk death sooner than deny their passions.
A heartfelt tribute to the author's hometown Damascus and a great and moving hymn to the power of love.
Also available as a hardback.
Rafik Schami was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971 and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous international awards.
****** Shortlisted for the 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. The winner is announced on 13 May 2010. Click here for details and the longlist announcement article in the Independent, and click here for the shortlist annoucement in the Bookseller.******
'A masterpiece! A marvel of prose that mixes myths, stories, tales, legends, and a wonderful love story... You will experience a Scheherazade in sparkling colours - a big love story, which does not spare us the sharp knives of grief.' - Die Zeit
'At last, the Great Arab Novel - appearing without ifs, buts,equivocations, metaphorical camouflage or hidden meanings..... Despite its length, the book is a compulsive read. We experience a long-awaited revelation of a society too long presented as a set of gruelling orexotic stereotypes. And the mythic elements endure, in the grist of many twisting tales. The continuing roll-call of revenge for old slights is exemplified by a piece of dialogue in which two brothers toast their success in avenging their father's death after 15 years,and one notes: 'A Bedouin would say: well done, lads, but why in such a hurry?' - Simon Louvish, The Independent, 31 July 2009. Read the full review here.
'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.' - Robin Yassin-Kassab, The Guardian, 16 May 2009. Read the full review here.
'With its feuds, lovers, murders, villains and assorted heroes and heroines, this is a novel to enjoy and to ponder.' - Claire Hopley, The Washington Times, 11 May 2009. Read the full review here.
'In 1962, Rafik Schami witnessed the so-called honour killing of aSyrian Muslim woman who had fallen in love with a Christian. The finalchapter of his novel The Dark Side of Love, originally published inGerman in 2004 but only recently translated into English, amounts to apostscript in which Schami describes how the trauma of this eventinspired him to write a novel on the myriad varieties of “forbiddenlove” in the Arab world. He spent decades grappling with the subject,writing dozens of books in the meantime, unable to find the appropriateapproach. Finally, he decided: “Mosaic is the form for a story likethis, I thought, a story with a thousand and one pieces in it, doingjustice to life in Arabia with all its flaws. And like a mosaic, thefurther from the observer the picture appears, the smoother and moreharmonious it will be.” - MA Orthofer, The National, 15 Oct 2009. Read the full review here.
'TheDark Side of Love is full-to-bursting with different varieties ofpassion: between the young and the old, those in first and second and third youths, married people and prostitutes. But the reader is alwaysclear on the book’s two ultimate possibilities: Either our favoritelovers, Rana and Farid, will flee their homeland and make a lifetogether, or they will fail.' - M. Lynx Qualey, Sycamore Review, 10 Oct 2009. Read the full review here.
Review in Multicultural Review:
“The sights, sounds, tastes, and fell of Damascus are imported into English in a new translation coming out of Germany. Schami’s long epic romance, translated into English by well-known translator Bell, is a mythical love story at its heart. Imagine a dead man’s body hanging from the portal of St. Paul’s Chapel in Damascus. The scene draws in a host of characters, the most enigmatic being Detective Barudi, who implicates the dead man’s widow. Taking it up one notch, the Secret Service moves in and takes the case. What follows is a complicated plot involving a blood feud between the Mushtak and Shahin clans. The reader looks back through layers of Middle Eastern history and the complicated culture of clans and tribes and loyalty. Forbidden love is the theme and tension that holds the passion in the work. The Dark Side of Love is a magnum opus at 864 pages, and reading it is a work of love. Schami’s works have been translated into 21 languages, which is proof of the enduring quality of this writer’s voice in English.” —Multicultural Review
“This isn’t an easy read, but it is well worth the effort. I think it isaliterary masterpiece and that everyone interested in MiddleEasternliterature should ensure they read it.
Highly recommended.' - Farm Lane Books Blog
Read the full review here.