Queerness in Khaled Khalifa’s ‘No Knives in the Kitchens of This City’

Arabic Literature (in English)

There is little joy or stability for the central characters in Khaled Khalifa’s No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, now translated by Leri Price and published by Hoopoe this fall:

noknivesThe book’s little-joy-ness won’t come to a surprise to fans of the award-winning Syrian novelist, nor really of anyone who has followed world news. This novel, like Khalifa’s previous In Praise of Hatred, takes a powerful emotion and traces it through the bloodstream of a family and a city.

Both In Praise of Hatred (2008) and No Knives in the Kitchens of This City (2013) were shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. While In Praise follows hatred, the core state in No Knives is shame. There is no shortage of varieties of shame: of body, of one’s sexuality or lack of sexuality, of modest or immodest dress, of impoverished dress, of ugliness, of age, of illness, of disability, of vanity, of religion…

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