Syrian author and screenwriter Khaled Khalifa passes away at 59

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 Oct 2023

Khaled Khalifa, a distinguished Syrian author and screenwriter, died at the age of 59 following a sudden heart ailment on Saturday.

Writer Khaled Khalifa
File Photo: Writer Khaled Khalifa speaks during an interview with AFP at his home in the Syrian capital Damascus on June 2, 2020. Khalifa passed away on September 30, 2023, at the age of 59, following a sudden heart attack. AFP


Khalifa was born in Aleppo in 1964 and graduated from the Faculty of Law in 1988, gaining widespread recognition for his contributions to several Syrian TV series during the early 1990s.

Over the course of his career, Khalifa also penned six notable novels.

However, it was his third novel In Praise of Hatred (2006) that catapulted him into the literary spotlight.

Translated into six languages, the novel was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) during its inaugural edition in 2008 and longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013.

No Knives in the Kitchens of This City (2013) received the esteemed Naguib Mahfouz Award from the American University in Cairo in 2013, underscoring Khalifa's stature as a master storyteller. It was also shortlisted for the IPAF in 2014.

Among his other well-known works are No One Prayed Over Them in 2019, Death Is Hard Work in 2016, Notebooks of the Levant in 2000, and Guardians of Deceit in 1993.

The English edition of Death is Hard Work (2016) was a finalist for the 2019 US National Book Award for Translated Literature.

Last September, the English-language version of No One Prayed Over Them earned a place on the longlist of the American National Book Award.

Khalifa's influence extended beyond the world of literature into television, where he crafted thought-provoking dramas such as Rainbow and The Biography of the Al-Jalali Family. These series delved into the social and cultural intricacies of Aleppo, his beloved hometown.

Khaled Khalifa was not only a literary figure but also a courageous critic of authorities and their policies, a stance he expressed through his writings and media interviews. 

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