Monday, March 13, 2017

Nine essential books by Arab writers

Louisa Ermelino is the Reviews Director at Publishers Weekly. Her most recent book is Malafemmena, a collection of stories, many of them set in the Middle East and Asia. One of her nine favorite books by Arab writers:
The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees, trans. from the Arabic by Max Weiss

This novel was handed to me by the publisher, which doesn’t happen as often as you might think, and I was so staggered by it that I interviewed the author, who was at Brown University for a literary residence. Powerful, funny, life-affirming, and one of PW’s 10 best books of 2013, it follows a writer in an unnamed country whose work is banned (the silence) by the repressive regime, as he moves through the city trying to reach the women in his life during a rally (the roar) for the “Leader.” Prescient when it was first published in English and more timely than ever, the author, who has been compared to Kafka and Orwell, is a Syrian exile living in Berlin. How does an author survive being silenced? Sirees answered that question in an interview: "There is always a solution. The best ones are love, sex and humour."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue