Kirkus ReviewsA mosaic portrait of life in Damascus during the early 1980s accretes from the brief character vignettes that compose this terse 1984 novel by a prominent Arab fiction writer and critic. The context is a dangerous missile crisis and the likelihood of war with Israel, and the characters who react variously to these circumstances include Yusuf, a young civil servant unexpectedly drafted into the Syrian army; Dallal, the forthright feminist intellectual whom he loves, to little effect; and, most notably, Dallal�s father, Chief Sergeant Yunis, whose dream of a peaceful old age is deferred, if not destroyed, by the crises that splinter and victimize his family. The story sags under discursive laments about the oppression of women and the tragedies of emigration and alienation, but its subtle creation of an atmosphere of eternally recurring conflict and sorrow explains why this affecting little work is considered a landmark in modern Arabic fiction.
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