International Prize for Arabic Fiction Shortlist Countdown: Reading ‘No Knives in the Kitchens of This City’

ArabLit and 7iber continue coverage of this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) longlist – in English and Arabic — with Khaled Khalifa and No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, a powerful novel that explores death, shame, and the lives of those who “refused to bow down despite the losses”:

khaled-khalifaKhaled Khalifa was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1964 and studied law at Aleppo University. He has written many successful TV and film scripts, and his third novel, In Praise of Hatred (2006), was shortlisted for IPAF in 2008, longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013 (translated by Leri Price), and has been met with acclaim in several languages. A US edition is forthcoming in April. His fourth novel, No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, has already won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for literature. 

No Knives was also chosen as one of the best novels of 2013 on by ArabLit contributors Jana Elhassan and Ibrahim Farghali. Farghali last year chose the novel that would go on to win the IPAF, The Bamboo Stalk, as one of his favorites.

In No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, Khalifa sketches in a society living under tyranny, and the people’s stifled aspirations, through one Syrian family. “The family realise that all their dreams have died and turned into rubble, just as the corpse of their mother has become waste material they must dispose of in order to continue living.”

Asmaa Abdallah reviews the book: ‘A Reminder of Why the Revolution Was So Necessary and Inevitable’

Translator Elisabeth Jaquette: Why This Novel Will Succeed in English

Naguib Mahfouz Award, Khalifa’s speech: “For once, writing stands before itself to answer a critical question about what writing can do when death becomes so abominable…”

Khalifa on English PEN: Written in blood: The beginnings of a new Syrian society

Previously featured novels:

Amir Tag Elsir’s ‘366

Ashraf al-Khamaisi’s God’s Land of Exile

Ibrahim Abdelmeguid’s ‘Clouds Over Alexandria’

Inaam Kachachi’s ‘Tashari’

Ahmed Saadawi’s ‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’