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The Silence and the Roar

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  44 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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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
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
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.
Ted Graham
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
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
Bob Finch
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
Job Merkel
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
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
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
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
Author Nihad Sirees is a Syrian writer living in exile in Egypt. "The Silence and the Roar" covers a day in the life of an intellectual writer and tv host, living in an unnamed mid-eastern country, whose voice has been silenced by an unnamed authoritarian Leader. The Leader's political machine creates a constant roar of adoration for the Leader, a roar that drowns out individual thought. The Leader decides that the writer's silence is no longer sufficient. He wants the writer to become part of h ...more
Amal Baqshy
The kind of book that gives you chills when you read it and you finish it with goosebumps. The writer merged the meanings of love and chaos into a single new meaning. Many metaphors for our political situation in the Arab world and they all leave you wondering about your actions towards situations that involve having a stand or making a choice that involves your country.
Rod Davies
works well as a parable and is efficient and entertainingly written. Felt frustrated not to get further insight and characterisation of some of the fleeting yet significant other characters the narrator meets, but the humour that laces the general thrust of the book ensures you're sufficiently engaged in this comment on living under a tyranical regime.
I believe this may be the first Syrian writer I have ever tried, and for the most part I enjoyed his story. The conversational narrative style works, as his main character maneuvers in totalitarian state with a cult of personality leader, one that helped destroy his father and now wants to co-opt him. I wondered if Saddam in neighboring Iraq was the target of Sirees's barbs, or possibly Hafez. One blurbs, I think erroneously, claimed it was a dystopian book, which it is not. Fanaticism and fear, ...more
Phil Williams
A very Orwellian tale of an oppressive government and how one man rebels against it. It is not hard to see the parallels between the 'fictional' world in this book and real places today. Reemphasizes the point that liberties must be protected at all costs.
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
Thanassis Cambanis
Somehow this book about one day in the life of a poet living under a Kafkaesque dictatorship managed to keep me laughing. The author deploys absurd humor and a tight sardonic style to evoke the quotidian terror of authoritarianism.
Kelsey Coolidge
Incredible. Moving. With an ending that brought the tragedy of the Syrian civil war to a piercing, emotional level.
An interesting short fictional book examining the meaning and possibilities of roar (e.g., sound, propaganda, forced civilian marches) and silence (e.g., repression, stillness, absence, death). Set in Syria, the book unfolds with life under a dictatorship and the web of lies and propaganda (i.e., the roar) spun and woven to elevate the status and position of the leader at the detriment of the people. The protagonist is an author who has been banned from publishing his works and is hence forced i ...more
I don't know why but there is something eerily elegant about Sirees depiction of a man's life being watched and followed in an unnamed country. His balance of the roar and the silence allows the reader to experience Fathi's day as if they too are experiencing the oppresive heat, an irrataional government and the moral complexities of staying silent and exisiting in a society filled with the roar. In light of the current situation in the middle east this book fills an urgent need for many to unde ...more
A day-in-the-life of a banned author in a repressive society led by an autocrat who demands constant adulation over omnipresent loudspeakers and unending parades of chanting mobs who are marshaled by thugs from the government. The suffocating society exists in a suffocating climate, so the perverse reprieve from it all is in a cool basement holding tank.

The author's beautiful prose moves the story along well, and I was sorry to put it down along the way and when it ended. I look forward to readi
Brandon Wilkins
A satire on the politics of a totalitarian regime in the Middle East. The narrative follows a day in the life of a writer who has been silenced by the 'roar' of the powers-that-be. It's humorous and insightful. Written in the spirit of Orwell's 1984. I enjoyed the story. It is translated from Arabic, and is wonderfully readable.

Those sensitive to romantic/erotic passages may struggle with a paragraph here and a paragraph there--though Sirees seems to recognize this, and so he explain why he inc
Andy Scott
It's so great to have access to this novel at a time when the people of Syria are facing the highest heights of repression and censorship. The story is so cleanly written and I wish there was more. It had an ironic sense of humor to it and it am so compelled by the character'a journey. This philosophized my view of the Syrian government, which has altered the viewpoint I once had that (provided by the news media) that was a single-dimension and frankly not as humanistic. I will definitely read t ...more
William Alexander
A chilling glimpse of just one day in the life of a banned writer in a mythical country (Syria) with a mythical, power-hungry leader (Assad). But Sirees manages to tell this desperate story with a touch of much-needed humor and irony - think Kafka or Camus. And it's just short enough that you don't fall into despair yourself. I highly recommend.
this novel strongly depends on the "life under personal dictatorship" theme and as I lived that for my first 21 years, I cannot say the stuff was new or impressive, though indeed it was well done; the rest of the book is very thin and undeveloped and doesn't really stand on its own

for westerners who have not experienced "life under personal dictatorship" the book should work much better and the author can surely write, but a one issue novel is not something to remember for a long time
Michael Sanderson-green
An interesting book on the power of dictatorship and the manipulation these people have over the populous. The ideology of the book is good the writing is a little simplistic and I think badly translated at times . The subject matter is explored in much more depth in the orphan masters son but having said that sometimes less is more and I won't look at these marches in dictatorships expressing love of the leader in the same light again.
Mr. Pollock
I loved this book. Would love to see it replace Animal Farm in our schools.
I loved this book. Would love to see it replace Animal Farm in our schools.
Stilte is er eigenlijk nergens in deze roman – ja, in het appartement van Sjiens vriendin in een buitenwijk, maar daar is het dan weer bloedheet. Het lawaai, daarentegen, is overal. Lees mijn hele recensie op
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