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Head of Zeus
Roundabout of Death
Roundabout of Death by Faysal Khartash, translated by Max Weiss

A powerful and beautiful Syrian novel set in Aleppo during the early days of the civil war that followed the Arab Spring.

'Masterful... Kaleidoscopic: personal and collective, serendipitous and fatalistic, marked by a bitter irony that can't help flirting with despair... What Khartash is tracking is the precariousness of memory – and identity' Los Angeles Times

'Faysal Khartash's English-language debut brings to a wider audience one of the best Syrian novelists of his generation and one of the most exciting writers to emerge from the region since the Arab Spring' TLS

Jumaa is a schoolteacher in Aleppo. He observes and lives through the literal disintegration of his beautiful native city. Through his eyes, in a mixture of first and third person narration, we experience the razing of entire neighbourhoods, the apparently random dropping of barrel bombs, the bewildering variety of militias and government security forces loyal to Assad, the arbitrary cruelties and the complicated journeys that people have to make simply to cross the city.

Roundabout of Death offers powerful witness to the violence that obliterated the ancient city's rich layers of history, its neighbourhoods and medieval and Ottoman landmarks. Aleppo was home to Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Christians and other sects. The war tore those communities apart and made their city a wasteland.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Fiction
20 Jan 2022 * 176pp * £10.99 * 9781801107273
REVIEWS
'A masterful distillation of one of the great tragedies of the twenty-first century, as stripped of artifice and sentimentality as it is undergirded with insight and empathy. Roundabout of Death is essential reading'
Dan Mayland, author of The Doctor of Aleppo
'A brilliant, kaleidoscopic and claustrophobic portrayal of the Syrian civil war. Khartash's spare prose eloquently conveys horrors that require no rhetorical elevation. This is a fine book that deserves a wide readership, both on its own merits and because the Syrian disaster is by no means over'
Jonathan Spyer, author of Days of the Fall: A Reporter's Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars
'Some books stand as monuments to wars from which they arise. This is one of those books'
Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue and Waiting for Eden
A heartwrenching and shocking work of historical fiction, Faysal Khartash's Roundabout of Death focuses on the human cost of Syria's civil war... The novel follows Jumaa, an unemployed Arabic teacher who struggles to live peacefully in a dangerous city... A powerful novel that takes a humane view of Syria's devastation'
Foreword Reviews
Bleakly arresting... Readers are ushered into a landscape that feels surreal but couldn't be more horrifically factual... Heartbreaking in its matter-of-factness, Khartash's work delivers a clear sense of life amid war in his book's brief span'
Library Journal (starred review)
'The strength of Roundabout of Death lies in its credibility, and in a specificity that defies detail. The BBC has declared the war in Syria to be the most documented in history, but no one can generalize from records of documentation alone. What we are left with in this novel is the geography of Aleppo [...] as much a character as Dublin is for James Joyce'
The Arts Fuse
To read a novel, presumably partly autobiographical, written by a Syrian author living in Aleppo amidst the city's destruction is a moving experience... I feel I've been to Syria and got a glimpse of what it's like to be living there as an ordinary person – and that is an incredible gift'
Five Books
'Khartash draws a protagonist who seeks only peace amid the bombs and explosions around him. Roundabout of Death is a book for those searching for new perspectives on an ongoing tragedy that continues to impact the lives of many people today'
artmejournal
'News reports and images have exposed the horrors of the Syrian crisis: millions of refugees, bombing and chemical weapons. But this powerful novel makes the grim reality of survival through the fierce fighting in Aleppo truly comprehensible'
Itamar Rabinovich, co-author of Syrian Requiem: The Civil War and Its Aftermath
Khartash's sparse and harrowing English-language debut offers an account of life in Aleppo during the Syrian Civil War... Readers will find this fragmented tale of war-torn Aleppo and its displaced intellectuals chilling and insightful'
Publishers Weekly
'A remarkable book, a vivid testimonial to the horrors of the Syrian civil war'
Robert F. Worth, author of A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil
Masterful... Kaleidoscopic: personal and collective, serendipitous and fatalistic, marked by a bitter irony that can't help flirting with despair... What Khartash is tracking is the precariousness of memory – and identity'
Los Angeles Times
Beautiful... Faysal Khartash's English-language debut brings to a wider audience one of the best Syrian novelists of his generation and one of the most exciting writers to emerge from the region since the Arab Spring'
TLS
'A searing, soaring firsthand account of the ravages war can produce'
Dorset Living
'A sublime distillation of one of the tragedies of the early 21st century'
Independent, 4 stars
'Short but deeply powerful novel... A searing, soaring firsthand account of the ravages war can produce'
Tyne Valley Living
'A haunting elegy to a devastated city'
Mail on Sunday
Author
Faysal Khartash
Faysal Khartash
Faysal Khartash is a leading Syrian author. He lives in his native Aleppo, has written several novels and works as a schoolteacher while contributing to Syrian newspapers.
Translator

Max Weiss

Max Weiss
Max Weiss teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Princeton University. He has translated books by Nihad Sirees, Dunya Mikhail and Samar Yazbek.
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