Khaled Khalifa’s exile at home

In this powerful short film, Exiled at Home, Beirut-based Syrian filmmaker and journalist Lina Sinjab features the award-winning Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa, author of No Knives in the Kitchens of this City, translated by Leri Price (Hoopoe, 2016). His more recent novel Death Is Hard Work, translated by Leri Price, was named a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

In Exiled at Home, Khalifa speaks candidly and emotionally about his feelings of helplessness after years of bloody conflict in Syria, his hours of writing to numb the solitude, and how somehow he manages to stay hopeful, despite everything.

“Six years. Bombing becomes part of your life. It’s nonsense. If you write an article, a novel, or anything, it’s nonsense. There is nothing you can do. You can’t even help a child. Complete helplessness. Solitude becomes an essential part of this helplessness. Every day, you have to find a solution for your solitude. For your helplessness. Someone like me turns to writing. I spend long hours writing in the coffee shop. I say probably that’s the only thing that’s possible. You give meaning to banal things. But I still have hope. I don’t know where it comes from. Without hope, I would probably commit suicide,” explains Khalifa.

Although his work has often brought him into confrontation with the Assad regime, Khalifa refused to leave the land where his mother is buried. With time, he became exiled in his own country, while many of his friends are exiled in Lebanon or Europe. He now lives in the shadows of a city —Damascus—that was once home to many of his friends.


Posted on 04/11/2019 in FICTION General, FICTION Political, FICTION Psychological, tagged as Arabic fiction, European External Action Service, Exiled at Home, Hoopoe, Hoopoe Fiction, Khaled Khalifa, Leri Price, Lina Sinjab, Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, National Book Award for Translated Literature, No Knives in the Kitchen of This City, Syria, translation


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