Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review

Book Review: Solo Piano Music (عزف منفرد على البيانو) by Fawaz Haddad: This masterful psychological thriller is like no other Arabic book I've ever come across. It combines aspects of the spy genre, the Jamesian Psychological drama, with thought-provoking existentialism, to produce a fine, ambitious thriller.

The plot - revolving around a secular Syrian writer and government official who, after getting attacked and beaten by a mysterious figure and becoming a sort of a celebrity, is entangled in a complex plot involving negotiations between the Syrian Government and Extremist Islamists - is layered, and at times dizzyingly complex. But author Fawaz Haddad's grasp of his characters, especially the protagonist, Fateh, that makes the reader want to tag along for this long and complicated journey. And a journey it is. Featuring a myriad of complex characters, shadowy goings-on, flashbacks and political intrigue, this isn't the easiest of reads. But Haddad's smooth prose, meticulous plotting, a fascinating supporting character (Selim, the enigmatic counter-terrorism agent), and a hell of a twist ending, all combine to make this a thriller worth spending some time and energy with. Highly Recommended.

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