Huddud's house A novel

Fādī ʻAzzām, 1973-

Book - 2024

"How far is love willing to travel in search of its own lost voice. Shadowing the days of Syria's Arab spring, Fadi Azzam's epic novel, Huddud's House--a haunting, contemporary novel rooted in the soil of Damascus, the oldest inhabited city in humanity--is a sprawling tale of love in time of war. Focusing on a quartet of characters torn between leaving and returning to Damascus, it follows intertwining stories of love and violence to their boundaries. Azzam writes the spirit of resilience and resistance of the Syrian peoples. A saga on the dangers of ignoring threats or forgetting atrocities, he braves a long-distance search for his people's voice, one that violence cannot silence."--

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Northhampton, Massachusetts : Interlink Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc 2024.
Main Author
Fādī ʻAzzām, 1973- (author)
Other Authors
Ghada Alatrash (translator)
Physical Description
343 pages ; 20 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

It's 2011, and Dr. Anees, a surgeon in London, is astonished to learn that he has inherited property in Damascus. The doctor is assured that Huddud's House will fetch a sumptuous price, but with no relatives left in Syria, he has to travel home to manage the sale. Meanwhile, in Dubai, Fidel, a glamorous film director and Syrian refugee, is invited to return home to produce a series of promotional films for the Assad regime. As both men return to the homeland they barely remember, their inexperience and naive trust in former friends will lead them to very dangerous places. Fidel finds himself documenting the horrifying experiences of victims of the Syrian revolution, while Dr. Anees soon realizes that the house he has inherited is a treasure trove of Syrian history, art, and literature that powerful forces allied to the government will stop at nothing to possess. As both men fall deeply in love with Syrian women with complicated connections to the regime and the revolution, Azzam brilliantly conveys the growing apprehension and tension of a society gradually slipping into totalitarianism.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An enigmatic novel of resistance by the prizewinning Syrian writer in exile. Huddud's house is a real place in Azzam's elegantly unfolding story, a ramshackle maze containing 170,000 Arabic books and 12,000 manuscripts. "Every room in this house has a story and an era," Dr. Anees Alaghwani reads in one of those books; he has inherited the place and returned to Damascus from England in order to sell it. Alas, the era of Anees' story is 2011, the dawn of the Syrian revolution and civil war, and powerful forces are conspiring to thwart his quest for profit. Some are shadowy, some have better intentions. Says a woman named Samia, who will come to figure prominently in Anees' story, "What you need to keep in mind is that we will resist the sale of this house with everything we have." She speaks, it seems, for the house as a repository of Damascene and Arabic culture, for all its contested meanings. Its name, though, scarcely conceals the Arabic word hudud, sins enumerated in Sharia law, and there are plenty of them: A central character, Fidel Al-Abdullah, raised by a Communist father and a devout mother, drinks and drugs and commits adultery until a switch flips and he to all appearances becomes an Islamist; other figures in the book indulge in similar peccadillos. All fall afoul of Syria's dictatorial Assad regime, about which Fidel's married lover, Layl, has this sharp observation: "Those loyal to Damascus's dictator were wealthy, phony, lowly opportunists....She never met anyone with morals or a noble character who defended the Syrian regime." Sympathies of this sort can get a person killed, and so they do. Given the subversive themes that punctuate a narrative that, at its best, is reminiscent of García Márquez, it's small wonder that its author has fled Syria for the safety of Britain. A landmark work of contemporary Arabic literature, at once allusive and defiant. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.