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October 1, 2023
So long, Khaled

So long, Khaled

My dearest Khaled,

I heard a few hours ago that you were gone.  

But this cannot be true. You said you were coming to visit in November. I said we would have dinner at home. You said I should come to the show you are preparing for your paintings in Bahrain. I said why not! You said I had to choose one for you to send me. I said I would. You said you had more preserved tomatoes for me. I said I didn’t get to finish the last gigantic jar you already gave me. You said the war made you lonely, that so many of your friends had left. I said why don’t you come to Dubai, and leave Syria? You said you couldn’t live in Syria, but couldn’t be anywhere else. You said I should come and visit your nocturnal empire in Damascus. I said let’s meet in your favorite bar in Beirut. You sent me pictures of the sea you loved in Latakya, Syria. I sent you pictures of the sea I loved in Arsuz, Turkey. Our towns are less than one hundred kilometers apart. How gorgeous is our sea I would tell you. The most beautiful sea in the world you would say.

When we first met years ago, I told you how poetic, colorful, sensual, moving and electric I felt your novel “Notebooks of the bohemians” was, that this is the kind of novel I wanted to push in translation. You told me to wait and see, that together we would let your books conquer the hearts of the world. It was a long way. Keep the faith you would say, don’t be disheartened. We will get there, you would say. It took another book, and six years to get anywhere: The first major translation and publication of “In praise of hatred” in 2011.  Nine years later, when I saw the crowds gathering at your readings in Italy and Germany, where tickets would literally sell out, when I read renown international critics who would seem to have understood how your restless mind and your enormous heart work, I told you I think you made it. You said Didn’t I tell you we would? Wait and see, you said, there is more to come. You celebrated the National Book Award 2023 longlist nomination dancing on the tables of Damascus. You said If I win this time, I will go to New York, will you come with me? I said Wouldn’t that be wonderful! 

You loved your small house in Latakya, where you would spend most of your time lately. Last week you said I wish you would come and visit me here. I wish I had. So long Abou al Khel.



No one prayed over their graves (2023)
Longlisted to the National Book Award, NYC, 2023

Bompiani, Italy (2021)
Pax, Norway (2021)
Rowohlt, Germany (2022)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, World English (2023)
Delidolu Tudem Egitim, Turkey (forthcoming)

An eagle on the bedside table (2022)
[ Non fiction essay ]

Death is Hard Work (2015)
Finalist to the National Book Award, NYC, 2019

FSG, USA, World English (2019)
Faber, UK (2019)
Bompiani, Italy (2019)
Rowohlt, Germany (2018)
De Geus, Netherlands (2018)
Sindbad, Actes Sud, France (2018)
Green Books, India, Malayalam (2019)
Sonia Draga, Poland (2019)
Prozart, Macedonia (2019)
Angustura, Iceland (2019)
Kastaniotis, Greece (2020)
Pax, Norway (2020)
Intelekti, Georgia (2020)
Filip Tomáš – Akropolis, Czech Republic (2021)
Clio, Serbia (2021)
Houpaa Books, Iran (2022)
Tudem, Turkey (2023)
BRaK, Slovakia (2023)
Batzer & Co, Denmark (forthcoming).

There are No Knives in the Kitchens of the City (2014)
Awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal of Literature, 2014
Shortlisted to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2008

De Geus, Netherlands (2015)
Actes Sud, France (2016)
Hoopoe AUC, English (2016)
Bompiani, Italy (2018)
Prozart, Macedonia (2018)
Pax, Norway (2019)
Rowohlt, Germany (2020)
Delidolu, Turkey (2020)
Angustura, Iceland (2021).

In Praise of Hatred (2006)
Shortlisted to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2008

Bompiani, Italy ( 2011)
Actes Sud, France (2011)
De Geus, Netherlands (2011)
Minuskel, Norway (2011)
Lumen, Spain (2012)
Transworld, English (2012)
Korridor, Denmark (2013)
Pax, Norway (2020).

The Notebooks of the Bohemians (2000)

The Guardians of Treachery (1990)