|(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
Having watched the Arab Spring unfold in early 2011 with a disquieting mix of hope and trepidation, AlAmmar explains, “It seemed this revolution transcended the touchstones of conflict we’re used to—religion and sect, tribe and origin, liberal and conservative. It felt like a call for an uncompromising dignity that extended to all areas of life. And yet: what comes after the revolution? The question left me unnerved, confused, and almost unbearably sad. So I did what I always do: I put it to a story. Not to try and make sense of things—for there is, I think, no way of making sense of the horror humans are capable of inflicting on one another—but because I needed a repository for the thoughts and feelings that assailed me.”
A young woman sits in her apartment in an unnamed English city, absorbed in watching the small dramas of her assorted neighbors through their windows across the way. Traumatized into muteness after a long, devastating trip from war-torn Syria to the UK, she believes that she wants to sink deeper into isolation, moving between memories of her absent boyfriend and family and her homeland, dreams, and reality. At the same time, she begins writing for a magazine under the pseudonym "the Voiceless," trying to explain the refugee experience without sensationalizing it—or revealing anything about herself.
Gradually, as the boundaries of her world expand—as she ventures to the neighborhood corner store, to a gathering at a nearby mosque, and to the bookstore and laundromat, and as an anti-Muslim hate crime shatters the members of a nearby mosque—she has to make a choice: Will she remain a voiceless observer, or become an active participant in her own life and in a community that, despite her best efforts, is quickly becoming her own?
With brilliant, poetic prose that captures all the fragments of this character's life, and making use of fragments of text from Tweets and emails to the narrator's own articles, journals, and fiction, explores what it means to be a refugee and to need asylum, and how fundamental human connection is to survival.
Wow. Just, wow. Silence Is A Sense by Layla Alammar is an excellent story. It has heart, grit, and so many layers that showcase the hot button issues of identity, isolation, politics, religion, and xenophobia (just to name a few). You can't help but turn the first page and find yourself settling down to read for the long haul - this book just hooks you and doesn't let go. It's an emotional and thought-provoking reading experience that you won't forget. I just LOVED this book so hard.
A young woman has fled her country for safety. She's left Aleppo, Syria for the United Kingdom. She sits in her apartment people watching and writing columns about the refugee experience. She's traumatized from what she witnessed and experienced in Aleppo that she's become mute. Her editor wants more personal details to hook their readers. The young woman finds herself becoming more and more involved with her new community. And then something horrible happens at the nearby mosque. Will she continue to remain silent or will she finally stand up?
Talk about a powerful story. Alammar has written a beautiful novel that will open your eyes and fill you with up with questions, ideas, and so much more. The writing is top notch and the characters are fantastic. This is one story you won't forget.
I would happily recommend Silence Is A Sense to anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!