Press Releases
May 17, 2024
“Selamlik, a starling powerful novel” by Khaled Alesmael

“Selamlik, a starling powerful novel” by Khaled Alesmael

Khaled Alesmael’s debut novel “Selamlik” was recently released in the UK and US! Below a review.

A review by Qisetna, May 2024

Selamlik by Khaled Alesmael is a haunting exploration of identity, love, and survival amidst the backdrop of political turmoil in Syria. Through the lens of Furat, a young man navigating both his homosexuality and the chaos of war, Alesmael delivers a powerful narrative that resonates with raw emotion and stark reality.

In many ways, Furat’s journey parallels the brutal honesty and unapologetic exploration of self found in Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal and the nocturnal adventures of the protagonist with his lover Salvador throughout the streets of Barcelona, impoverished by the Spanish Civil War. Like Genet’s protagonist, Furat grapples with his desires and struggles to reconcile his sexuality with the expectations of a conservative society. Alesmael’s portrayal of Furat’s homosexual activities is both intimate and unflinching, capturing the complexities of desire and the fear of persecution that pervades his every interaction.

Moreover, Alesmael deftly weaves Furat’s personal narrative with the larger political landscape of Syria, offering a nuanced portrayal of the human cost of conflict. Much like Genet’s raw depiction of life on the margins of society, Alesmael exposes the brutality and injustice faced by those caught in the crossfire of war. Through Furat’s eyes, readers are confronted with the harsh realities of displacement, violence, and loss, as he embarks on a perilous journey to escape the chaos engulfing his homeland.

In comparing Alesmael’s portrayal of Furat to Genet’s protagonist, it becomes evident that both authors share a commitment to authenticity and truthfulness in their storytelling. While Genet’s first-person narrative exudes a sense of defiance and rebellion, Alesmael’s approach is marked by a quieter, more introspective tone. Yet, the emotional impact of Furat’s experiences is no less profound, as Alesmael skilfully captures the anguish and resilience of a young man struggling to find his place in a world torn apart by violence.

Selamlik is a searing indictment of the human cost of war and a testament to the power of love and solidarity in the face of adversity. Through Furat’s journey, Alesmael shines a light on the struggles of LGBTQ individuals in the Middle East, while also bearing witness to the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging of circumstances. It is a book that demands to be read, its haunting prose leaving an indelible mark on the reader long after the final page is turned.