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Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

A tale of three ordinary people embarking on a dogged, absurd quest through the nightmare of Syria’s ongoing and catastrophic civil war – with little more than simple determination.

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Format
Ebook
ISBN
9780571346066
Date Published
05.03.2019
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Summary

A FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS IN TRANSLATED LITERATURE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAIF GHOBASH BANIPAL PRIZE

Abdel Latif, an old man, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. Before he dies, he tells his youngest son Bolbol that his final wish is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya in the Aleppo region. Though Abdel Latif was not the ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, he decides to persuade his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and their father’s body to Anabiya – only a two-hour drive from Damascus.

But the country is a warzone. With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies, whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honour their father’s request quickly escalates from a dutiful commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria is no longer any place for heroes, and the trials that confront the family along their journey – while they are captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed – will prove to have enormous consequences for them all.

A mixture of brutal, front-line reportage and surreal humor evocative of Beckett and Kafka, Death is Hard Work is an unforgettable journey into a contemporary heart of darkness.

Critic Reviews

One of the rising stars of Arab fiction . . . A rare public voice.

New York Times
Critic Reviews

Syria’s most celebrated contemporary novelist . . . [Khalifa’s] writing is superb – a dense, luxurious realism pricked with surprising metaphors.’

Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian
KhaledKhalifa

Khaled Khalifa was born in 1964, in a village close to Aleppo, Syria. He is the author of four novels, including In Praise of Hatred, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and No Knives in the Kitchens of this City, which won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013. He lives in Damascus, a city…

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