Khalifa makes no displays of false humility. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Khalifa's novel explores the hidden life the people of Aleppo created in order to tolerate life under the Baath regime.It took the novelist six years to write "No Knives," a four-year spell, followed by two more years of editing and modifications.Khalifa's characters are purely fictional but he says there are many Syrian people who have undergone similar experiences.The story starts with the death of the narrator's mother and ends with the death of Rasheed, his brother – who escaped Aleppo to join a Salafist group in Baghdad, was captured by U.S. forces and forced to collaborate with them against his friends.Dismantling the concept of the mob, Khalifa depicts what is really going on in the lives of those who recite chants praising the president and pretend to collaborate with state intelligence.Modest, realistic, positive and warm, Khalifa makes no displays of false humility.Writing, for Khalifa, is a matter of life and death.Renowned for dismantling Syria's politics and society in his fiction, Khalifa wishes he were bolder. It isn't the duty of literature to bear a social burden, merely to be faithful to itself, Khalifa believes.
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