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The Silence and the Roar takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country resembling Syria. The story follows a day in the life of Fathi Chin, an author banned from publishing because he refuses to write propaganda for the ruling government.
On this day, the entire country has mobilized to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the reigning despot. The heat is oppressive and loudspeakers blare as an endless, unbearably loud parade takes over the streets. Desperate to get away from the noise and the zombie-like masses, Fathi leaves his house to visit his mother, but en route stops to help a student who is being beaten by the police. Fathi's ID papers are confiscated and he is forced to return home and told to report to the police station before night falls.
When Fathi turns himself in, he is led from one department to another in an ever-widening bureaucratic labyrinth. His only weapon against the irrationality of the government employees is his sense of irony. The Silence and the Roar is a funny, sexy, scathing novel about the struggle of an individual over tyranny. Tinged with a Kafkaesque sense of the absurd, it explores what it means to be truly free in mind and body, despite the worst efforts of the state to impose its will on its citizens.
"The Silence & The Roar" makes for tough reading--in all the right ways. It shares certain features with many of the classic examples of literature under oppression, from the persistent nature of surveillance to the arbitrariness of government officials to attempts to compromise the integrity of the protagonist. But Sirhees places his story in what is clearly a Ba'athist environment, a hot and sweaty country struggling with secular and religious forces right alongside the challenges of dictatorship. It is a compelling read, and the afterword is touching.read more
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Syrian writer Sirees takes on, with piercing insight, the huge themes of freedom, individuality, integrity, and, yes, love, in this beautiful, funny, and life-affirming novel, his first to be translated into English. On the 20th anniversary of an unnamed despot's rule, in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, Fathi Sheen, a silenced writer, is caught in the frenzy of the crowd that "turns all those individuals into droplets in a raging human flood." He runs afoul of the security forces and his ID is confiscated; he arrives at his mother's house to learn that she is planning to marry a man high up in the regime; and on his way to see his girlfriend Lama, "a liberated woman who owns herself," he has a series of absurd encounters as he confronts the noise of the streets-the "roar"-and indulges in laughter and sex to resist the government that would have him "compose poetry that glorifies the leader and write heroic novels." Originally published in 2004, the novel indisputably connects to current events, but its value as art and political commentary is timeless. Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century. Agent: Jane Loudon. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.