From the acknowledgement page: “All except twelve of the nouns in Damascus can also be found in The Times (London) of November 1, 1993”
Also, the entire book takes place on November 1, 1993. And almost everyone in the book has the same few names, and I'm still not sure if we're supposed to think they're different people or the same (not helped by the author starting each chapter with "Today in Sussex or London or Bath a woman who works as a designer or author or barista" and so on. Still an interesting book. Recommended to me by my Book Lust calendar!