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The Road from Damascus

The Road from Damascus [Kindle Edition]

Robin Yassin-Kassab
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Product Description


'A novel so packed with ideas it threatens at times to explode ... One of the author's gifts, and he has many, is to give us characters, who, even at their most wilfully one-dimensional, are believable and, at times, funny' Independent 'A fantastically enjoyable, wise and intelligent novel that grows in the telling and should cause the most feted of literary stars to sit up and take notice' Big Issue 'A rambunctious and daring novel, with scattered comedy amid the drama' Metro

Product Description

It is summer 2001 and Sami Traifi has escaped his fraying marriage and minimal job prospects to visit Damascus. In search of his roots and himself, he instead finds a forgotten uncle in a gloomy back room, and an ugly secret about his beloved father...

Returning to London, Sami finds even more to test him as his young wife Muntaha reveals that she is taking up the hijab. Sami embarks on a wilfully ragged journey in the opposite direction, away from religion – but towards what?

As Sami struggles to understand Muntaha’s newly-deepened faith, her brother Ammar’s hip hop Islamism and his father-in-law’s need to see grandchildren, so his emotional and spiritual unraveling begins to accelerate. And the more he rebels, the closer he comes to betraying those he loves, edging ever-nearer to the brink of losing everything…

Set against a powerfully-evoked backdrop of multi-ethnic, multi-faith London, The Road from Damascus explores themes as big as love, faith and hope, and as fundamental as our need to believe in something bigger than ourselves, whatever that might be.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1257 KB
  • Print Length: 357 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0141035641
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 Jun 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9S3I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking and boldly original novel 16 Aug 2009
'The Road from Damascus' is a well-written and very enjoyable novel. It is about Sami Traifi, a struggling PhD student who was born in Britain to Syrian parents. The story is set in the summer of 2001 when Sami has just returned from a month's trip to Syria in a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to find his roots. Upon his return to London he finds that his wife Muntaha has begun wearing the Muslim headscarf (hijab) as an expression of her newly found spirituality. Sami, a staunch secularist, is outraged. In a state of frustration and uncertainty, he embarks on a journey of drinking and drugs,which ultimately lands him in a police lock-up for the night. Having reached a state of mental and physical exhaustion, he then begins to find some answers to the questions that have been troubling him for so long.

The novel is an entertaining and often moving tale of Sami's relationships with his wife and others close to him, and through these relationships much bigger themes are explored: secularism and religion, modernity and tradition, love and loyalty. For the reader with limited exposure to Arab and Muslim society, the novel offers a refreshing take on the complexity of culture, identity, race, and religion in a globalising world. Indeed, the novel takes a daring, and timely, approach to issues which are often framed in the western media within the narrow paradigm of a "clash of civilisations".

The depth and breadth of the issues dealt with do not make light reading. However, the novel is entertaining and in parts very funny, and I found it difficult to put down. The story is told in a style which is engaging, employing beautiful turns of phrase, at times capturing the flavour of its setting with the language of the London streets. Overall, 'The Road from Damascus' is boldly original, in parts challenging, and an excellent read. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lyrical novel of ideas 15 Aug 2010
An ambitious and in the main hugely successful first novel, The Road from Damascus charts Sami Traifi's dramatic fall from academic and marital grace, and his gradual reconciliation with Islam, his Syrian heritage, and his wife's decision to wear the hijab. Yassin-Kassab's writing is culturally and historically astute, deeply informed by politics, theology and poetry, yet always fluid, personal and intensely imaginative. The inner conflicts of a secular British-Muslim are richly drawn on a canvas that stretches from a family secret in Damascus to the destruction of the Twin Towers, from a coke-fuelled spree of rebellion to the private space of prayer. Fundamentalism is satirised, but gently - a young Brother with an excitable belief in jihad is also a loving brother, brother-in-law, son and step-son. Intellectually the book sizzles, exploring not only the subtleties of Islamic thought but also the volatile power-keg of global ideologies in conflict; emotionally the narrative simmers with a warm, aromatic brew of observations and insights. Some minor characters could have been more satisfyingly developed, but the author does a tremendously sensitive job of conveying the complex nerve-structure of family relations. Sami's calm and elegant wife emerges as a powerful and independent figure, while Sami's need to come to terms with the loss of his father and accept his own adult responsibilities to others forms the heart of this compelling book. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good read 18 April 2014
By Hannah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
allows you to get into the mind of the main character, a male. good ending to his struggles, scenarios highly relevant to current society
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4.0 out of 5 stars From Damascas to chaos 25 Sep 2011
I found this book a little tedious to get into just for a nano-second, but am so pleased I persevered. Set in London, with disturbing beginnings in Damascus, Sami, so lucky to have such an understanding and tolerant wife and an equally tolerant family, careers though a disaster-filled life, hell bent on destroying it on spliff, grog and whatever comes his way. A misfit in his own world, in London and Damascus, he fights against and struggles with family issues, religious issues, life issues, with identity issues. Is he a fully rounded character? Probably not. Weak, easily persuaded throughout, lost to the academic world he aspires to, through an inability to come to terms with self, Sami is in self-distruct mode. This sets him on a directionless path to nowhere and in that milleu, comes across characters who are as equally disturbed as he is. Enjoy the read as he criss-crosses from sanity to insanity to some sort of resolution about where he fits in society.
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