The Silence and the Roar Reviews
I have to admit I disliked this book from the start as the writing is both repetitive and simplistic. To be fair, I'm not sure if the problem for me is the author's writing or the translation, I suspect partially the latter. I also expected more than the novel delivered. For such a short book, far too much narrative was spent describing the main character's relationship with his girlfriend (which ultimately had nothing to do with the point the author was trying to make, at least as far as I can tell). It was obvious the book had a message - portraying life under a despotic ruler, but the author chose to concentrate on just a tiny part of despotism (the insistence of the despot that his people praise and adore him).
Nothing about the plot seemed to have any depth and it lacked the sense of menace or darkness that I would expect from a novel dealing with such a grim topic. All the scenes meant to convey the evils of life in this type of society were way too short, never really engaging my feelings and not establishing the sense that the abuses described are widespread. It also lacked a sense of place; I realize that this is to some extent intentional as it is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, but I had to keep reminding myself that this was intended to be the Middle East and not Communist China. As the author descends into the bowels of the bureaucracy the narrative does become more interesting and Kafka-esque, but this section is entirely too brief."
"Since language is important to both the writer and his culture, it's hard to tell from the translation whether what is rendered as slangy cliché is meant to be, as the protagonist's reflections don't seem particularly well-written." - Kirkus
an excellent novel about a brutal despot and an unlikely hero... Sirees, a Syrian who fled his homeland after increased surveillance and intimidation from the government
has clearly imbued his protagonist with his own indomitable courage and frustrations
While The Silence and the Roar is a slender novel, it is far from slight." - The National
"With biting humor Nihad Sirees reveals the extraordinary injustices of ordinary life under the oppressive rule of the 'Leader.' This country remains unnamed but the richly rendered story illuminates the hard reality of the many Middle Eastern states in political transition today." - Shahan Mufti, journalist and author of The Faithful Scribe
"A chillingly prophetic novel. In spare, razor-sharp prose, Sirees describes the effects of authoritative rule on the psyche of an unbreakable and irrepressible artist. Timely, powerful, and searing." - Randa Jarrar, author of Map of Home
"The theatre of the absurd that is everyday life in a totalitarian society is the subject of Nihad Sirees's urgent new novel, a searing political allegory in the tradition of Orwell and Camus. The portrait of a banned writer wandering the streets of a nameless dictatorship that Arab readers will recognize all too well, Sirees's book would be unbearably bleak if it weren't so funny: its narrator's caustic irreverence is his rebellion against the tyrant's roar that would reduce him to silence." Adam Shatz, Contributing Editor, London Review of Books
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