Just Like a River
by Muhammad Kamil Al-Khatib
Thought by many Syrians to be the most influential novel of its time, this first novel of Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib is a riveting examination of Syrian political and social life during the 1980s. With a multi-voiced narration carried, like a river, from one voice to another, al-Khatib paints concise, vivid portraits of a disparate group of people in Damascus, ranging from an older officer in the Syrian army, a university student coming to terms with her sexuality in a traditional context, a British Orientalist on sabbatical and a disillusioned activist who must reconcile his ideals with the realities of war and city life. Though the particularities of the explored lives may be quintessentially Syrian, the struggle between the generations, between men and women, between country and city, and between victor and vanquished are international in scope.