To unravel the crime, it plunges through hundreds of interwoven tales of betrayal, revenge and forbidden love. The roots of the crime lie in Mala, an Aramaic-speaking Christian village in the mountains outside the city. Despite its idyllic surroundings, the village is plagued by a blood feud between the Catholic Mushtaks and the Orthodox Shahins, which flows down the generations to poison the love affair of Farid Mushtak and Rana Shahin.
The warring families move between the village and the city, unable to throw off the feud despite their newfound urban sophistication.
Each generation wrestles with another age-old problem: desire thwarted by the dictates of age, status, parental whim, religion, tribe, politics or simply by a pre-existing marriage. The novel's view is as fatalistic as its sympathies are generous: though the most ardent new spouse is soon disporting him- or herself with a variety of lovers, it is usually for a good reason.
Even the devoted Farid betrays Rana with his cousin Laila though no one seems to mind. The backdrop - or, sometimes, foreground - to this domestic turmoil is the turbulent history of Syria in the 20th century: a series of military coups, occupation by the French and a brief and unwelcome union with Egypt whose leader Gamal Abdel Nasser appears as the adored, then reviled, President Satlan.
Damascus's tradition of co-existence suffers: the ancient Jewish community flees, bit by bit, to Israel; a Muslim boy threatens to burn down the Christian quarter in a fit of rage over the Suez crisis.
The political upheavals eat away at Syrian society, creating an underworld of torture cells, secret service, disappearances, murders and corruption. Repressed and embittered, ordinary Syrians become addicted to underground societies. Farid joins various anti-government movements, including the outlawed Communist party, and is twice consigned to torture camps before his eventual escape, with Rana, to Europe.
The heart of the book, though, is not desire or politics, but Damascus itself: a "lost luggage office of cultures", a "mosaic with pieces that have been fitted together by travellers over a period of eight thousand years". Schami's love for the city shines from every sentence: it might be stalked by government informers, sex pests, corrupt police and unfaithful spouses, but it is still a place where magic is more likely to happen than not, where lovers can hide and the Christian quarter can wake up one morning to find it has "rained" sugar-coated fennel seeds.
The central sections of the novel describe the city's hamams, shops, cinemas, courtyards, cafes and houses, its street games, festivals and food, through Farid's childhood in the s and s. Black Mirror: Season 5. Fear the Walking Dead: Season 5. Game of Thrones: Season 8. The Handmaid's Tale: Season 3.
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Add Article. Tomatometer Not Yet Available. Coming soon Release date: Jun 21, Audience Score Ratings: Not yet available. Super Reviewer. Share on Facebook. View All Photos. Movie Info Two brothers on different life paths reunite to mourn the death of their mother. Julian, who's been his mother's caretaker for years, must now confront his brother Michael who's been a drug addict and has now reached rock bottom. Both brothers will be tested as they deal with each others prejudice and rage.
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