Lam Yousal Alyhoum Ahad (“No One Prayed For Them”), by Khaled Khalifa, Cairo: Dar A-Ain, 2019, pp. 384.
Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa’s latest novel was published first by Hachette Antoine/Nofal in Beirut, and subsequently by Dar Al-Ain in Cairo.
In this book Khalifa parts with his last two novels, Death is Hard Work and No Knives in This City's Kitchens, which dealt with the current situation in Syria, instead going for complete fiction.
The novel takes place on the outskirts of Khalifa's beloved hometown Aleppo in 1907, when a river floods and destroys the life on its banks. The protagonists of the novel are two friends, Hanna and Zakaria, who survive the flood.
The novelist, a winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal, also explores the history of Aleppo during the 19th and 20th centuries, a city that lived through floods, famine, and major social, political and religious shifts.
Khalifa, born in Aleppo in 1964, is best-known for his novels In Praise of Hatred and the two Syrian-focused works mentioned above.