The Silence and the Roar

by Nihad Sirees

cover art of the The Silence and the Roar

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Pushkin Press (10 Januar 2013)
ISBN-10: 190896829X
ISBN-13: 978-1908968296

Buy now on Amazon or via your local English bookstore.

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. Paperback copies should be ordered in advance; Kindle versions immediately available.

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-year anniversary of the reigning despot in this unnamed Middle eastern country. The heat is oppressive and loudspeakers blare as an endless parade takes over the streets. Desperate to get away from the noise and the zombie-like masses, Fathi leaves his house to visit his mother and his girlfriend, but en route stops to help a student who is being beaten by the police. Fathi’s iD papers are confiscated and he is told to report to the police station before night falls.

When Fathi turns himself in, he is led from one department to another in an ever-widening bureaucratic labyrinth. His only weapon against the irrationality of the government employees is his sense of irony. Tinged with a Kafkaesque sense of the absurd, The Silence and the Roar explores what it means to be truly free in mind and body.

“Sirees takes on, with piercing insight, the huge themes of freedom, individuality, integrity, and, yes, love, in this beautiful, funny, and life-affirming novel…[The Silence and the Roar] indisputably connects to current events, but its value as art and political commentary is timeless. Sirees has written a 1984 for the 21st century.”Publishers Weekly, choice for Top Ten Books of 2013

“In this short, satiric fable, a formerly famous writer silenced by an authoritarian regime finds himself in a predicament where Kafka meets Catch-22.”Kirkus

“With biting humor Nihad Sirees reveals the extraordinary injustices of ordinary life under the oppressive rule of the “Leader.” This country remains unnamed but the richly rendered story illuminates the hard reality of the many Middle Eastern states in political transition today.”Shahan Mufti, journalist and author of The Faithful Scribe

“A chillingly prophetic novel. In spare, razor-sharp prose, Sirees describes the effects of authoritative rule on the psyche of an unbreakable and irrepressible artist. Timely, powerful, and searing.”Randa Jarrar, author of Map of Home

“[A] powerful, prescient novel.”Publishers Weekly

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Nihad Sirees (born 1950) is a Syrian writer. He was born in Aleppo, and studied engineering at university. He emerged as a fiction writer in the 1980s, and till date has written novels, plays, and scripts for TV dramas. Among his notable works are the historical novel The North Windsand the popular TV series The Silk Market, which has been translated for screening in English, Persian and German. He also wrote a TV series about the Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran. His novel The Silence and the Roar was banned in Syria, and has been translated into German, French and English.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Sirees was targeted for heightened surveillance by the Assad regime, as a result of which he went into exile in 2012. Initially going to Egypt, he now lives in Berlin, Germany.


Max Weiss is an assistant professor of history and Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. He is author of In the Shadow of Sectarianism: Law, Shi`ism, and the Making of Modern Lebanon, co-editor of Facing Fear: The History of an Emotion in Global Perspective and translator, most recently, of Hassouna Mosbahi, A Tunisian Tale and Samar Yazbek, A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution.