No Knives in the Kitchens of This City

Khaled Khalifa

Translated by Leri Price

Best Translated Fiction 2016
--The Financial Times

No Knives in the Kitchens of This City

No Knives in the Kitchens of This City

Khaled Khalifa
Translated by Leri Price


In the once beautiful city of Aleppo, one Syrian family descends into tragedy and ruin.

Irrepressible Sawsan flirts with militias, the ruling party, and finally religion, seeking but never finding salvation. She and her siblings and mother are slowly choked in violence and decay, as their lives are plundered by a brutal regime.

Set between the 1960s and 2000s, No Knives in the Kitchens of this City unravels the systems of fear and control under Assad. With eloquence and startling honesty, it speaks of the persecution of a whole society.


“Magnificent . . . offers a bigger vision, reminding us that all politics are personal.”—Barnes & Noble Review

“The poetry and lyricism of the prose make for an easy and compelling read. . . . The author gives us an encapsulated view of the region’s political and social history from the First World War to the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. A very timely read.”

“Khaled Khalifa writes about his native city with sensuality and an almost feral intensity . . . . No Knives in the Kitchens of This City offers a glimpse into how terrified and empty of hope the people of a city must be to rise up in revolt. The future offers them nothing. It is a castle of closed doors. . . . The sights, smells and horror of living in Aleppo come pounding to life in this book. The place, to me, is no longer an abstraction, and Mr. Khalifa clearly fears for its fate throughout.”
—The New York Times

"[Khalifa is] one of the rising stars of Arab fiction . . . a rare public voice."
—The New York Times

"Critically acclaimed . . . [No Knives in the Kitchens of this City] traces the degrading and destructive impact of Syria's dictatorship on the lives of a family from Aleppo."
—Financial Times

“Intricately plotted, chronologically complicated and a pleasure to read. . . . The writing is superb—a dense, luxurious realism pricked with surprising metaphors. It is lyrical, sensuous and so semantically rich that at times it resembles a prose poem . . . . A sad but beautiful book, providing important human context to the escalating Syrian tragedy.”—The Guardian

"A searing indictment of the Syrian regime."
—The National



Khaled Khalifa

Khaled Khalifa was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1964. A founding editor of the literary magazine Alif, he is the author of four novels, including In Praise of Hatred. He has also written numerous scripts for TV dramas and films, several of which have won awards, and screenplays for several feature films. No Knives in the Kitchens of This City was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2013 and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014.

Leri Price is the translator of Khaled Khalifa's In Praise of Hatred.

Khaled Khalifa - خالد خليفة - International Prize For Arabic Fiction: 2014 Shortlist from IPAF

Find out more
  • October 15th 2016
  • $10.99 / £7.49 /
  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 9781617977534
  • Also available as: Paperback

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