Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “This Life or the Next” as Want to Read:
This Life or the Next
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

This Life or the Next

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  577 ratings  ·  74 reviews
From award-winning author Demian Vitanza comes a groundbreaking novel—his first to be translated into English—about one man’s alienation, radicalization, and disillusionment on the violent front lines in Syria.

Tariq Khan is a Pakistani born and raised in Norway. An outsider in his own country—adrift between two worlds divided by class, race, and culture—he’s always been se
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Amazon Crossing (first published January 31st 2017)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about This Life or the Next, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about This Life or the Next

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  577 ratings  ·  74 reviews

More filters
Sort order
A clever way to tell a sad tale of Tariq a Norwegian young man of Pakistan extract who is first a small time drug supplier, than finds Islam and later decides to go to Syria to fight against the Asaad regime. He tells his story whilst in a Norwegian prison.
The story portrays a man who wanted to help the Syrian people but as he was fighting along ISIS/IS types he was, in Norway, a terrorist. What comes through the narrative was the complexity of the various rebel groups, the slow disintegration o
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 2015, Demian Vitanza was working in Norway’s Halden Prison when he met a young Norwegian-Pakistani man serving a sentence for terrorist activities. Vitanza spent over 100 hours interviewing him, and this remarkably compelling book is a fictionalised account of those conversations. In the novel, the young man is named Tariq Khan. He’s been living a very westernised life, partying, drugs, girls, in general enjoying himself, but then gradually this hedonistic life-style starts to pall and he bec ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Chosen solely on the title, I had no clue what this was about when I started it. This is the story of Tariq, a Norwegian-born muslim. It is written as an interview with him after his imprisonment for conspiring to commit an act of terrorism. He and a friend had traveled to Syria to help defend the country from oppressors.

I would recommend using the translation guide at the back of the book while reading it. I didn't know it was there until I finished and I think it would have helped me understa
Cat Manning
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was written like an interview, even though the interviewers questions are not written down you know what was being asked.
The book is a relatively quick read and the glossary in the back definitely helps.

Tariq is a Norwegian Pakistani Muslim trying to find his way in the world and his place in it. This book is his mostly true, some fictionalized events of his coming to age story.
Cecilie Claborn
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well written

I loved the format of the interview. Hearing the experience from the prisoner gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of a war few of us take time to consider.
T.B. Cooper
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story written in this format before. Heck, I don’t even think I’ve read a book fiction or non, related to this subject matter, either. But I’m so thrilled that I did.

This story follows a Norwegian Muslim, Tariq, as he recounts his journey as an “average” guy, who ends up feeling out of place by society, and ends up leaving to go fight in Syria as a jihadist, & this is told to an invisible and silent journalist that is interviewing him while he is in prison.

Jason Stenger
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up as one of the free ebooks from Amazon and their Amazon Crossings imprint as part of their World Book Day promotion. I honestly wasn't sure that I would ever even read it but I'm a bit of a digital hoarder so I was happy to snap it up and dump it in my virtual library. I've been trying to step outside my typical reading categories and so long story short I decided to pay the extra couple bucks download the Audible narration for this book and give it a go. I'm glad I did.

The book
Sue Kozlowski
I read this book as part of my quest to read a book written by an author from every country in the world. This author is from Norway. His mother was from Pakistan and his father was from Norway. Much of this book takes place in Syria.

This story is written as an interview with Tariq Khan, a prisoner in Norway. Tariq has changed some facts to hide the true identities of people he encounters.

Tariq grows up in both Pakistan and Norway. He is introduced to the Muslim religion by his uncle, who begins
Helene Barmen
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Denial Vitanza is an author I haven’t read before but this was a really pleasant first meeting. His writing is quite verbal and reading goes fast. It has still taken me a while to finish the book as I haven’t read that much this summer but every time I picked it back up I got right back into the story.
The narrative is told by Tariq who is serving an eight year prison sentence for having been to Syria. He tells us about his live before during and after his stay. You understand what lead him to g
Dhea Juhara
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought it was God putting me in my place. That one moment you can feel like royalty, and the next be flailing around in sewage. Whatever—there’s no point in going around thinking you’re better than everyone else. All of a sudden you may need their help to get up out of the shit.

I love how the writer made the flow of the early stage of the book a little bit slow, just like how the main character felt, like he kept doing the same things everyday, feels like he's stuck in a moment. The story dev
Sharon Michael
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A chilling story told in the first person of a young man from Norway who went to Syria to fight against Asaad. Why would he do that? Because he was Muslin, because his father was absent when he was growing up, because he was looking for purpose in his life, because he was young and didn’t like his life of drug dealing and playing video games. It is quite readable, as if you are listening to him talk to you, but it is also quite depressing. Apparently, many young Muslin men flocked to Syria for s ...more
Jessica Lavander-Biggs
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"There's no point in going around thinking you're better than everyone else. All of a sudden you may need their help to get out of the shit."

This book captivated me from the very beginning. I received the e-book free from Amazon for International Book day, and I purchased the audible to go with it. The narrator for the audible book very much captured the theme of the main character, and did a fantastic job with pauses and pacing.
The main character is being interviewed while he is in prison for a
I got this book through the Amazon World Book Day offer for 2019, otherwise it's likely I would never have run across it. It was translated from Norwegian and written as a novel by a man who spent 100 hours interviewing a Norwegian of Pakistani heritage who spent some time in Syria trying to honor his Muslim heritage only to end up in prison as a terrorist when he returned to Norway. Although the author says both he and the interviewee fictionalized the story, it feels like it was more a real li ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
I listened to this book via Audible. The narration was extremely good.

The premise of the book - the story of a Norwegian (ethnic Pakistani) that goes on jihad to Syria, then returns to Norway and is then imprisoned for being associated with terrorist organizations . I read this book to try to get a different perspective on Syria, ISIS, and mostly to try to understand WHY a person living a comfortable life in a western country would want to throw themselves into such a war. This book did not ans
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting insight

It took me a few chapters to get into the book. I am still not sure how I feel about the interview format where the interviewers questions are not written.
I do think it’s from a viewpoint that is rarely discussed which makes it worth the read. The entire time I kept thinking and hoping he’d make the right decision. He doesn’t seem to, except in the end. But anyone who has been young and full of passion for anything can identify with his feelings. Although, I kept wishing he’
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting style, and well done. Written as a series of interviews with a rebel fighter in Syria who has returned to Norway and now serves an 8 year prison sentence. Only the interviewee's words are provided. Usually, the question that has been asked is obvious, but not always. And those times when it isn't allow reader interpretation and curiosity. Based on actual interviews, but the author notes that both he and the man telling the story have fictionalized their accounts to some extent. (The ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I got this book free from Amazon. I didn't know what it was about and what to expect, but once I started reading, I just kept going. It's a very dark story, and rightfully so. War isn't pretty and there are multiple facets of it that we see through the eyes of someone who's been at the center of it. Whether or not we agree with or understand Tariq's (the narrator) motivations is immaterial. His story provides us a vivid picture of what war is like and the senselessness of it all. And in the mids ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
70% of the book was super slow, as it established so much backstory and context. It’s written from the POV of the main character dictating his story to a journalist. It took a while to read because it wasn’t that captivating. However, I don’t regret reading it. I learned a lot about Syria and the different groups fighting against Assad. What they believe in, how they feel about certain things, how even the rebel groups turned against one another, how each let religion guide their actions. It was ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think everyone should read (or listen to, as I did) this book. This is what reading does at its best - opens your mind to other people's experiences and points of view. Now I understand that not every western "jihadi" is an extremist or terrorist. Some young people looking for purpose in their life think that they might be able to help other people by fighting Assad. To prevent the "radicalization" of such youth, society needs to understand why they are adrift in the first place: racism, unemp ...more
Brenda G Breeding
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly good!

I received this as a free book from Amazon/Goodreads, otherwise I would not have considered reading this book.

It gives insight into the different rebel groups fighting in Syria, and their evolution. The format of the book is an interview with a young rebel “wanna be.” It explains how he progressed from a child in Norway to a rebel in Syria. Excellent writing style. Easy to read. Very informative. I highly recommend this book if you are the slightest bit interested in the war i
Bernadette Gray
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it

Disturbing, if this is a general description of life in Syria. A terrible reflection on Western society that we are not giving out youth a foundation to become adults. A frightening look at what happens when young men have no guidance growing up and are so susceptible to a cause. What is happening in Syria is equally wrong. People killing for power and no one seems to be reacting to the actual cause of the people. Or, rather, no one is able to.
Elaine Onstad
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
True, with a healthy dose of fiction

Very interesting story: a native Norwegian of Pakistani heritage forsakes his life as a petty criminal to fight government forces in Syria. The book is one long narrative of his recollections, presented as an interview with the author. Very readable, believable, and difficult to forget.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: one-offs
It sure has taken me a while to read this book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I actually received a kindle copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, the only one I’ve won so far.

It wasn’t really something I would have chosen to buy but I’m really glad I read it. It gave me a lot of perspective and made me think about things I really hadn’t considered before.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Could have been more descriptive

The story was only moderately engaging. It seemed that the author was holding back, being less descriptive. Perhaps it was because the story was based on actual events and the author thought it best to be vague on details to protect the real people.
Lorenzo De Leon
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An important book

This is not an easy book to read. It is about a Muslim man, born in Norway, who leaves to go to Syria to become a jihadist. He is not an easy person to empathize with. That is why we should read it. Spoiler: it is based on real life events.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First person narrative of a voice that needs to be heard. Tariq is a young man in search of truth, goodness, and doing the right thing. He feels called to help the Syrian people and leaves Norway to join those rebelling against the Assad regime.
Sally Kahler
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Informative, interesting but not easy

I am glad I read it. I think I better understand the difficult choices facing these young men. It also made me believe that these current wars can’t be won by anyone. It was a difficult read and a sad commentary on the Muslim religion.
Gayle Mccoy
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story of a young Pakistani refugee from Norway who decides to join ISIS and fight for their cause. Interesting inside look at some of the politics, the people involved, and what goes on in this war.
Holly Crawford
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it

I was interested the whole time. Then, I found out it was fictional, but based on the life of someone in prison and I felt bad for the way things went. But, I would definitely recommend this book and I'm sure I'll read it again sometime.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A MUST read

A different kind of format that really worked here. I kept thinking this was non was so detailed and passionate about his life as a Muslim and the war inSyria. I highly recommend this novel f you call at all about what’s going on in the “ Middle East”
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tung tids tale
  • Begynnelser
  • Nei og atter nei
  • Bli hvis du kan. Reis hvis du må.
  • Gratis og uforpliktande verdivurdering
  • Verda er ein skandale
  • The District Governor's Daughters
  • Popsongar
  • Tante Ulrikkes vei
  • Harpesang
  • Leksikon om lys og mørke
  • Madonna-gåten
  • Maskeblomstfamilien
  • Angrep fra alle kanter (Teksas-serien, #2)
  • Hässelby
  • Søsterklokkene
  • La pasión según Carmela
  • Sveve over vatna
See similar books…
Marco Demian Vitanza (f. 1983) er halvt italiensk, han har vokst opp i Halden, har en master fra London School of Economics og har gått på Aschehougs dramaskole. Eller som han selv liker å si: Marco Demian Vitanza er en ansamling mennesker som bor i samme kropp. "Urak" er deres første bok.