June 19, 2018
Khalifa Talks to Avvenire About Repression and Shame in War-Torn Syria

Khalifa Talks to Avvenire About Repression and Shame in War-Torn Syria

Published by Avvenire, March 20, 2018

In his work the Syrian writer can not break away from the tormented city: “Despite everything, mine has never been a country prone to fanaticism: plural identity is an ancient value.”

Khaled Khalifa has some difficulty separating from the passport. The organizers of Libri Come (the Roman event to which the Syrian writer has participated in recent days) have asked him for a few minutes, the time necessary to deal with paperwork, but until the document does not return in his hands Khalifa demonstrates a contained restlessness. “You can not understand – he apologizes while the passport is finally secured – but in my country this is a very serious matter.” Of Syria, and particularly of Aleppo, Khalifa has always written. “By now I am convinced that it is my destiny – he admits with a smile. Even the book I’m working on at the moment is set in Aleppo, in the 19th century”. Symbol of the war that has been raging in Syria for seven years,Eulogy of hatred, the novel of 2006 which is linked to the international fame of the author, both in There are no knives in the kitchens of this city, the book that in 2013 won the prize named in memory of the Egyptian Nobel Naguib Mahfouz and which now comes out, like the previous one, from Bompiani (translation by Maria Avino, pages 286, euro 18.00).

Where does the title come from?
“From the uprising in Hama, the city that in 1964 tried to rebel against the military who took over the coup of the previous year – replies Khalifa, who will present the book at the Franco Parenti Theater in Milan on March 28th. The army had besieged the town and was preparing to bomb. During the negotiations with the major locals, the commander of the government forces came out with this threat: “When I have finished with you, there will not be a knife left in the city”.

What does it mean to recall those words today?
“It means going back to the two feelings that, in my opinion, have dominated Syrian society for a long time. First of all, fear that is irrepressible and omnipresent. Fear of repression, fear that some of your loved ones will disappear or that you yourself will be made to disappear. There is the fear of an abuse that can fall from above at any moment, but also the betrayal consumed by those closest to you. In this sense, even the leaders of the ruling elite never feel safe, because they know they can not trust each other “.  Read more in Italian