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The Silence and the Roar

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  331 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Available in English for the first time, The Silence and the Roar is a funny, sexy, dystopian novel about the struggle of an individual over tyranny.

The Silence and the Roar follows a day in the life of Fathi Sheen, an author banned from publishing because he refuses to write propaganda for the ruling government. The entire populace has mobilized to celebrate the twenty-ye
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Other Press (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 01, 2013 jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
published in its original arabic some seven years before the syrian civil war began in 2011, the silence and the roar (al samt wal sakhab) is the first work of the exiled aleppo-born novelist and screenwriter to appear in english. nihad sirees left syria in january of 2012 after being "watched and followed by syrian security services." acclaimed for his novels (particularly the north winds), as well as for his television series, the silk market, sirees had previously incurred the wrath of govern ...more
Rebecca Foster
A sobering allegory about the place of the individual artist in a repressive regime, drawing on the literary traditions of surrealism and absurdism. The entire novel takes place within 24 hours — one stiflingly hot Sunday. Our irascible narrator is Fathi Sheen, a writer who was fired when he refused to shoehorn party publicity into his television programming. Cooped up in his apartment, he complains of the heat, the light, and especially the noise. There is a pro-government march happening outsi ...more
Selin Secen
Feb 20, 2016 Selin Secen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Onca gürültünün ve propagandanın ortasında sessizliğe methiyeler düzen bu güzel kapaklı, özenli çevirili kitabı keşfettiğime mutluyum. Her ne kadar erkek bakış açısı, kitabın zaten azıcık olan kadın kahramanlarını tekdüze anlatmış yahut 2 boyutlu bir hale indirgemiş olsa da, o coğrafya için en iyisi bu herhalde diyerek genelinden aldığım zevke gölge düşürmek istemiyorum.

Yazının devamı için:
May 28, 2016 Shotgun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pokud je je polovina z vyprávění z této knihy pravda, tak se nedivím, že Syřané utíkají ze své vlasti. Děj knihy se odehrává ještě před arabským jarem a pekla, které vypuklo následně ale i tak jde o režim, kde by jste nechtěli rozhodně žít. Představte si naše osmdesátky ale kombinované s kultem osobnosti, kterým se Asad vyrovnal jak Stalinovi, tak Hitlerovi či Maovi. Představte si, že se tak jednou týdně opakuje šílenější, agresívnější a nebezpečnější verze prvního máje, kdy běžně dohází k ušlap ...more
Aug 16, 2016 Jale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Otokratik bir Arap ülkesinde yirmi yıldır iktidarda olan Lider, kitle psikolojisi ve muhalif yazarın olanları anlama çabası. Neden bağırıyoruz? Marş neden çalınıyor? Aynı sloganı defalarca söylemek ne kazandırıyoruz? Lider bizden ne istiyor? Evet, birçok satırın altını "bize ne kadar da benziyor" diyerek çizilen ve ürkütücü metin.
A. Fedosia
Oct 04, 2015 A. Fedosia rated it really liked it
Liked the story. Through narrative, the writer disguises characters' fear of retribution for individual thinking and for not joining mass rallies out in support for the unnamed Leader. Another disguise of fear is the main character Fathi's laughter and love, along with his mother Ratiba's and his lover Lama's. The grandiosity of the political regime in the omnipresence of the Leader's portraits, of his speeches, and of the military march music on buildings and television seems exaggerated; and F ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Camila rated it liked it
This largely plotless, parable-esque little novel is worth reading -- it's an effective evocation of a world that sounds like a dystopian satire until you set it alongside dispatches from Syria, when it suddenly starts to seem more brightly optimistic than reality. But while the narrator's voice is compelling and the sense of stifling heat, noise and bureaucracy shines through, it's unsatisfying as a novel, full of stagnant, sketched-out characters and unresolved plot points.
Parrish Lantern
In the afterword of this book, Nihad Sirees, asks “Is it possible for the silence and the roar to co-exist?” Going on to state that The answer is most certainly yes, that in countries ruled by people obsessed with supremacy, authoritarians and those who are crazed by power, the ruler or leader imposes silence upon all those who dare to think outside the prevailing norm. Silence can be the muffling of one’s voice or the banning of one’s publication, or it can be the silence of a prison cell… or t ...more
Debbie Kinsey
This novella takes place over one 24-hour period of the life of Fathi, a writer in Syria who is considered a traitor for his views on the regime and so is no longer allowed to write. It’s about how a dictator must be adored, and how the hysterical crowds and the dictatorship feed into each other. It’s about what it’s like, and how, to be standing on the outside of that, and if it’s possible to stay on the outside. You can really feel the oppressive heat, mirroring the inescapable oppression of t ...more
Lila ( formerly Jalilah )
This well written novel by Syrian author Nihad Sirees conveys what life is like in a country ruled an oppressive totalitarian regime. His storytelling is compelling, as the reader follows a day in the life of a writer, (who clearly has a lot in common with the author), who has been banned by the government for his critical writing. Sirees has written a number of plays and tv series and this is evident in his writing. In fact this novel would make a good movie. I wish more people in the West woul ...more
Jul 28, 2016 Banushka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
öyle bir denk geldi ki bu kitabı okumamın zamanı... dün Ayvalık'ta meydanda bangır bangır malum kutlamalar vardı, şimdilik katılmayanı dövmüyorlar, kitaptan farklı olarak... benzerlik çok can sıkıcı, ortadoğululuk aşikar, lider kültürü baki, zaten yasaklanmış bir roman, tahmin edebileceğimiz gibi... sessizliğe ihtiyacımız var, oturup düşüncelerimizi dinlemeye...
Jan 08, 2013 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Syrian "1984." Think of Egypt's Albert Cossery so frustrated by his government's corruption and the peoples' complicity in it that the humor he usual deploys to deflate it is almost gone, because his good-natured nihilism has been replaced by a desperate desire for change. Sirees's depiction of crowd scenes--the noise (always the noise), chaos, and violence--and a hospital's hallways after the day's marches (in *favor* of "the Leader")--filled with the stench of rapidly-decomposing corpses and ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Berna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suriye'li yazar Siris' in ,bir diktatör yönetimindeki bir Orta Doğu ülkesinde 1 günü anlattığı bu romanı okurken ,hem diktatör özelliklerinin ve yönetim taktiklerinin her yerde aynı olduğunun, hem de ülkemizin de bir Orta Doğu ülkesi olduğunun iyice farkına varacaksınız.
John Pappas
Jan 02, 2015 John Pappas rated it really liked it
The story of a few days in the life of a writer struggling to exist in an unnamed despotic regime. The simple limpidity of the prose belies the staggering compassionate and courageous acts of the protagonist as he attempts to live, live and work in a country that seems to do nothing but celebrate the reign and accomplishments of the Leader. A political allegory not only applicable to the author's homeland of Syria, this study of the individual's fight to remain separate from the deafening and de ...more
Ted Graham
Mar 29, 2013 Ted Graham rated it it was amazing
Quite simply, this book was brilliant. I picked it up on Wednesday and finished it this morning (it's Friday). It's riveting and insightful and the prose is often breathtaking. Reminiscent of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy, the story of Fathi Sheen is a peek inside the horror that is modern Syria. The main character struggles with the roar of the regime and longs for the simple silence of being happy. The story covers barely more than a day, but the simple hurdles that the characters must get th ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Kaela rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, finished it in a day! I felt a connection to the main character as a person I would get along with and would be friends with. Its a day in the life of Fathi a man who refuses to follow the "roar" of an oppressive and terrible dictator. He is determined to hold his ground and his beliefs as he struggles to maintain the silence during the day. The author is a Syrian writer who escaped and oppressive government. Even though a country or leader isn't named, he makes the story very r ...more
Aug 08, 2015 emessan rated it really liked it
A poignant read, short yet chock-full of symbols and meaning. It's hard not to feel a little uncomfortable reading the novel -- heat and noise seem inescapable, alluding to the ever-present state and the grand leader's cult of personality. silence becomes desirable mainly due to its scarcity.

The point the author makes is clear: that humor, sarcasm and light-heartedness (laughter) and love-making (for, well, love) are modes of resistance or at least staying sane in an increasingly insane reality
With such a raw style, full of self-aware explanation, I found it difficult to appreciate the writer’s intent until I read the afterword. A more subtle approach, however, would likely go unnoticed in such a harsh regime of forced emotionialism as this story requires in its setting.

Where emotion has been so falsely used shock tactics become the breaking of chains. That emotion should require meeting the harsh with an equal but differing harshness is not an easy challenge to accept, let alone car
Bob Finch
Oct 25, 2014 Bob Finch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A "day in the life" sort of book. A loosely autobiographical-ish story of a suppressed writer as he goes through a momentous day in a country (unnamed) ruled by a megalomaniacal dictator. The heat, the stifling heat, the sweltering heat, permeate nearly every page. And the noise, the never ending, ever-present din of mindless masses chanting and raving during a political rally begins to wear the reader down. The writer, seeking relief - coolness and silence - suffers his own imposed silence: Pro ...more
Damien Travel
Dec 13, 2015 Damien Travel rated it really liked it
I also liked « The Silence and the Roar” written by by Nihad Sirees in 2004. In the streets of a city that is not named but which is likely Damascus, the masses are celebrating the 20 years in power of the Supreme Leader. This is a never ending series of loud marches and processions. Fathi, a famous writer tries to avoid the roar by going his girlfriend Lama’s flat and forgot it all in bed with her. But as soon as he sets foot in the street, he is taken in a whirlwind and ends up at the police s ...more
Job Merkel
Jun 04, 2014 Job Merkel rated it really liked it
The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees certainly matched the imagery and tone of the book with the title. The number of times the words, "silence" and "roar" appeared was not a nuisance but only added to the depth of the novel, offering new and fresh ideas of what the words meant, in the context of the novel, and to the reader, each time. In some ways, the story moved slowly for me, but it was this subtlety of pace that made it even more exciting. There weren't cliff-hanger endings but I still ...more
Christi Cassel
Jul 06, 2015 Christi Cassel rated it really liked it
In the heartbreaking afterword written for the English translation of this book, author Nihad Sirees closes by saying, “As I present my novel to the English reader, my heart is agonizingly heavy about what is happening in Syria, my homeland.” Sirees has been in self-imposed exile from Syria since 2012 due to personal and political harassment. This novel, which was translated into English just last year, was originally published in Arabic in 2004, and has been banned in Syria for years.

Do a Googl
Gregory Williams
Sep 08, 2015 Gregory Williams rated it really liked it
An interesting piece of political satire by an exiled Syrian. From the book:

"So I'm begging you, tell me what we should call what's going on here. Naming can satisfy a need, it can shorten a conversation that otherwise might go on for hours. Tell me, I'm begging you!"
I stared into his blazing eyes as they flitted back and forth between the door and me.
"Surrealism, surrealism," I found myself repeating.
He received the words from my lips and then happily leaned back in his chair, stared up at t
Curt Bobbitt
Jul 04, 2016 Curt Bobbitt rated it really liked it
Recommended to Curt by: Review in Chronicle of Higher Education
This short, first-person story reports an a middle-aged, male author's struggle in a military dictatorship. The Syrian author includes an afterword in which he announces "I had always wanted to explore certain dimensions of dictatorship... I believe that love and peace are the right way to confront tyranny."

The narrator, Fathi abd al-Hakim Sheen, 31, reports his encounters with personal acquaintances and government officials during the mandated celebration of the Leader's twenty years in power.
Apr 21, 2014 Megan rated it liked it
I found "The Silence and the Roar" by Nihad Sirees interesting. The book is complex and deep, despite being short. In some ways I found that frustrating because when I picked it up I was not expecting to be so challenged by a piece so short. I found the content difficult only because I know so little about the world and culture that Sirees is using as his basis.
Those who know and follow the politics of the Middle East and especially those who study and/or particularly enjoy writers who have come
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Tawseef Khan
Jan 04, 2015 Tawseef Khan rated it it was amazing
A short, but brilliant novel. Initially, I found the use of a narrator to tell the story quite jarring, perhaps compounded by the fact that the text is a translation and can seem a little pedestrian in places. But once it begins its flow in describing the absurdity of authoritarian regimes and the incomprehensible desperation and insecurity of dictatorships, the prose and story begins to shine. I love the format of the novel, it profers to offer a day in the life of a dictatorship, with a great ...more
Nihad Sirees è un intellettuale siriano fortemente critico verso il regime di Bashar al-Assad. Censurato nel 1998, nel gennaio del 2012 ha preferito lasciare Aleppo, in un esilio autoimposto per timore della sua incolumità. "Il silenzio e il tumulto" è stato pubblicato nel 2004, ma l'autore non ha neanche mai pensato di chiedere alle autorità siriane l’autorizzazione alla pubblicazione. E' stato invece pubblicato a Beirut. In italiano è uscito nel 2014 tradotto dall'arabo da Federica Pistorno.

Aug 06, 2013 Jona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite liked this novel; it's rather funny, and provides a very urgent and very necessary view at the cracks that can always be found in oppressive regimes. That being said... I didn't find it entirely satisfying, mostly because I don't agree with the premise that laughter, comedy, etc. are a viable way of combating oppression and dictatorship - since cynicism may in fact be a constitutive way of how the novel's "roar" is in fact produced (are we seriously think people in the streets believe ev ...more
Sep 14, 2013 James rated it liked it
A quick read but a very thought provoking book about the craziness of life in a dictatorship. I will especially remember the large demonstration (the roar) supporting the leader--of course orchestrated by the leader. I loved when he lost the videotape of his anniversary demonstration, and so had them stage another one to replace it! It is inspiring to see one man, and woman, just stand up to it and laugh at the craziness it is. This was written by a Syrian about Syria--though unnamed--but could ...more
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“Stillness does not mean the absence of sounds, not at all, but rather the tranquillity that allows one to perceive quiet, soft and distant sounds.” 3 likes
“I believe that love and peace are the right way to confront tyranny.” 2 likes
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