The Dark Side of Love

Rafik Schami / Translated by Anthea Bell

‘At last, the Great Arab Novel – appearing without ifs, buts, equivocations, metaphorical camouflage or hidden meanings. Schami’s book is exceptional…’
The Independent

‘Schami exploits all the resources of the classic realist novel and then goes a little further, forging a new form out of Syrian orality. His basic unit is not a chapter or paragraph, but story; a thousand bejewelled anecdotes and tales are buried here, ready to spring, but each is melded with such dazzling surety into the whole that reading the book is always compulsive.’ 
The Guardian

‘With its feuds, lovers, murders, villains and assorted heroes and heroines, this is a novel to enjoy and to ponder.’ 
The Washington Times

‘In Anthea Bell’s deft, witty translation, each of Schami’s 853 pages and 304 chapters is a pleasure to read.’ 
The Observer




‘A panoramic novel of 20th-century Syrian life’ 
The National

‘A masterpiece! A marvel of prose that mixes myths, stories, tales, legends, and a wonderful love story… You will experience a Scheherazade in sparkling colours – a big love story, which does not spare us the sharp knives of grief.’ 
Die Zeit

‘Schami gives voice to the entire chorus of Damascus life. Why is why, despite the grim plot line of revenge, this is essentially a joyous book, an exile’s book of love and a surprisingly fast read’ 
Publishers Weekly

Romance, mystery, family saga, political exploration – The Dark Side of Love takes on many shapes. This is an enthralling page-turner that will invite readers to find out how the pieces fit together; it also offers prose as succulent as sweetmeats that begs to be savored.’ 
Foreward Reviews

‘Romeo and Juliet meets Arturo Pérez-Reverte and John le Carré in the dusty streets of Damascus… A rewarding and beautifully written, if blood-soaked, tale.’ 
Kirkus Reviews

This isn’t an easy read, but it is well worth the effort.’ 
Farm Lane Books Blog


Above St Paul’s Chapel, a body hangs in a basket over the city wall. The corpse is Major Mahdi Said, a high-ranking Muslim officer, and the secret service is soon involved.

But Detective Barudi is not content to let this mystery disappear. Alone, he begins to unravel a clan war that has dominated the lives of three generations.

At its heart lies the story of Rana and Farid, two lovers whose struggle to be united must overcome old tribal structures and their country’s turbulent history.

RAFIK SCHAMI was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971 and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous international awards. He is the author of The Calligrapher’s Secret, Damascus Nights, and Damascus: Taste of a City.

ANTHEA BELL‘s translations include W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, Wladyslaw Szpilman’s memoir The Pianist, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, as well as a large selection of Stefan Zweig’s novellas and stories. Her prizes and awards include the Mildred L. Batchelder Award (seven times), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize, and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.

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