Roundabout of Death

Set in Aleppo in 2012, when everyday life was metronomically punctuated by steady bombing, Roundabout of Death offers powerful witness to the violence that obliterated the ancient city’s rich layers of history, its neighborhoods and medieval and Ottoman landmarks. The novel is told from the perspective of an ordinary man, a schoolteacher of Arabic for whom even daily errands become a life-threatening task. He experiences firsthand the wide-scale destruction wrought upon the monumental Syrian metropolis as it became the stage for a vicious struggle between warring powers. Death hovers ever closer while the teacher roams Aleppo’s streets and byways, minutely observing the perils of urban life in an uncanny twist on Baudelaire’s flâneur. Navigating roadblocks and dodging sniper bullets on visits to his mother and sister in the rebel-held eastern sector of the city, the teacher clings to normality with a daily ritual of coffee with friends, conversation casually permeated by news of the latest fatal blasts. The novel, a literary edifice erected as an unflinching response to the erasure of a once great city, speaks eloquently of the fragmentation of human existence, the oppressive rule of ISIS militants in nearby Raqqa and the calamities of war.

Excerpt from Roundabout of Death