In 1980s Syria, a young Muslim girl lives a secluded life behind the veil in the vast and perfumed house of her grandparents. Her three auntsthe pious Maryam, the liberal Safaa, and the free-spirited Marwaraise her with the aid of their ever-devoted blind servant.
Soon the high walls of the family home are no longer able to protect the girl from the social and political chaos outside. Witnessing the ruling dictatorship's bloody campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, she is filled with hatred for the regime and becomes increasingly radical. In the footsteps of her beloved uncle, Bakr, she launches herself into a fight for her religion, her country, and ultimately, for her own future.
Against the backdrop of real-life events, In Praise of Hatred is a stirring, layered story that echoes the violence currently plaguing the Middle East.
"A Balzacian tale full of romance and murder that ranges from Afghanistan to Yemen to Syria." - The New York Times
"That Khalifa has chosen to profile fanaticism from a feminine perspective, rather than the more predictable 'male martyr', is this book's great innovation. It is a courageous endeavour." - The Independent (UK)
"Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred...is powerfully seductive in its exploration of hate." - Egypt Independent
"Khalifa has now produced a genuinely important novel, even a great novel, the kind of novel that makes us see in patient and exacting detail what the world is really like." - The New Republic
The information about In Praise of Hatred shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.
Rated of 5
Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)
IN PRAISE OF HATRED
The best way for me to be informed is to read fiction based on real lives, real events. This is what I gained from In Praise of Hatred. I felt no connection to the characters portrayed but the novel clarified the violence in the Middle East, let me see the hatred of the dictatorship's campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood , witness the changing life of a young secluded Muslim girl as she is tossed into the social and political chaos of the world outside the protection of the family walls. It is a powerful awakening.
Rated of 5
Linda W. (Summit, NJ)
Behind the Veil
There are many places in the world where people live behind solid, almost impenetrable walls. We sometimes get a glimpse of a courtyard or inner sanctuary, but rarely can we enter so fully the life that goes on in these sequestered homes. Khaled Khalifa takes us by the hand and leads us into the life of a young Muslim girl living in Syria at a time when most of us had little knowledge of this part of the world.
The coming of age behind the walls of an extended family and behind the veil of Islamic culture is a story worth reading. Although sometimes challenging to follow the hopscotch of time, the text reads more like a journal than a fictional narrative.
Rated of 5
Patricia S. (New Canaan, CT)
Hard to get into
I so wanted to love this book, but as I was reading it, I had mixed emotions. I felt frustrated at the lack of translation for all the italicized words (nothing listed in the back of the book), disgusted by the atrocities in the 80's, (which continue to be worse even now) ,uplifted by the descriptive expressions ( "Babies on both sides felt like ripened berries which took some of the sting away from reality"), and gladdened by the characters' reasons for staying alive - from impaled butterflies to a small birthday candle. This plea for tolerance and peace just didn't reach inside me as it should.
Rated of 5
Andrea B. (Phoenix, AZ)
The protagonist of this story is a female member of an Islamic sect that stands in opposition to the ruling sect. There are two main themes of this story: the political division between two Islamic sects and her isolation from normal social contact with males in her age group. She is encouraged by her prayer group and members of her family to hate anyone not part of her own sect. She is also taught to hate her body and any physical feelings she may have. She struggles to nurture these twin hates, assuming that hatred gives her life meaning. She works to repress any signs of compassion for anyone in another sect and also to repress any normal sexual feelings.
While many works of fiction are told from a broad historical context and secondarily focused on an individual, this story is told from the individual's perspective with the broader historical setting less defined. An understanding of current and recent events in the Middle East is helpful.
I wanted to read this book in order to understand the title. Was the author going to justify hatred and all its ramifications? The book illustrates the part that hatred plays in their society, in her life, and in sustaining religious and political divisions. The message here is that ultimately hatred does not satisfactorily fulfill an individual and leads to cultural disruption. The timeliness of this book is all the more heart breaking than was perhaps intended, as life in Syria is now more unsettled than ever.
I recommend this book for anyone who would like some understanding of the cultural context of women's place in Middle Eastern societies.
Rated of 5
Carolyn V. (Douglass, KS)
In Praise of Hatred
The provocative title and the setting in Syria made me want to read this book. I have read many translated books but this one was tough going. The historical aspects were enlightening and I come away from reading this book realizing how little I understand of this culture. I liked the 2nd half of the book better and felt the author resolved the title well.
Rated of 5
Diane C. (Nashville, TN)
Growing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The author made a powerful decision by leaving the narrator nameless. In some ways, she is always the "other" that we cannot know, but at the same time she is everywoman. Her situation - growing up isolated, deeply repressed by religious beliefs, surrounded by liars - is not unique to her time (the eighties) and place (Syria.) Fear of secular culture and unreasonable definitions of chastity shape women's lives all over.
Hatred is the word the narrator uses to explain the walls she places between herself and those persons and objects that she must deny herself in order to survive. In order to give her will so completely to her family's beliefs, she cannot lust after the lifestyle of others. She even uses hatred to describe her feelings about her body.
It becomes apparent how terribly victimized this narrator is as she contemplates such violence as a response to her jealousy of the girls who easily live a freer life. The story is beautifully rendered, and yet hard to read. The insipid way this girl's life was destroyed is filled with both the small details of her life and the larger picture of Syria's war. This girl has placed faith in her religious practice and in her family's position to protect her, and in the end she is failed by both.
Khaled Khalifa was born in 1964 near Aleppo, Syria. He is the fifth child of a family of thirteen siblings. He studied law at Aleppo University and actively participated in the foundation of Aleph magazine with a group of writers and poets. A few months later, the magazine was closed down by Syrian censorship. Active on the arts scene in Damascus where he lives, Khalifa is a writer of screenplays for television and cinema. In Praise of Hatred is his third novel and his first available in English.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.