Khaled Khalifa is a Syrian novelist, screenwriter and poet, born 1964 in Aleppo. He attended the University of Aleppo, where he earned a BA in law and was a member of the Literary Forum. He has written several television dramas, documentaries, short films, as well as a feature length film. His third novel, In Praise of Hatred, was banned by the Syrian government and a finalist for the 2008 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. It was translated into English by Leri Price, and longlisted for the International Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013. His fourth novel, No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, won the 2013 Naguib Mahfouz Medal and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). Khalifa currently lives in Damascus.
Featured Reading Group Title: لا سكاكين في مطابخ هذه المدينة (No Knives in the Kitchens of This City)
No Knives in the Kitchens of This City is a profound exploration of the mechanics of fear and disintegration over half a century. Through the story of one Syrian family, it depicts a society living under tyranny with stifled aspirations, and a family who realizes that all their dreams have died. Written with shocking perception and exquisite language, from the very beginning this novel makes its readers ask fundamental questions and shows how regimes can destroy Arab societies, plundering lives and wrecking dreams. Written in vivid, intricate prose, this is a novel about grief, fear and the death of humanity.
- No Knives in the Kitchens of This City features as part of our winter 2015 Arabic reading group.
- Download and read Elisabeth Jaquette’s translation of an extract from No Knives in the Kitchens of This City
- This same extract was translated by Anne-Marie McManus and Ghias Aljundi, and appeared in Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline (Saqi, 2014).
- You can order No Knives in the Kitchens of This City in Arabic from the Neel Wa Furat here or here.
- For more, read Asmaa Abdallah’s review of the novel, Jaquette’s piece on why it will succeed in English, and Al-Mustafa Najjar’s Q&A with Khalifa, all on ArabLit.