The Shell

by Mustafa Khalifa

The work of a modern-day Sozhenitsyn that exposes acts of violence and brutality committed by the Syrian regime. This compelling first novel is the astonishing story of a Syrian political prisoner of conscience atheist mistaken for a radical Islamist who was locked up for 13 years without trial in one of the most notorious prisons in the Middle East. The novel takes the form of a diary which Musa keeps in his head and then writes down upon his release. In Tadmur prison, the mood is naturally bleak and yet often very beautifully captured. The narrator, a young graduate, is defiant and stoical, and somehow able to pick out humor and irony in the shocking events and characters he describes. Considered by many in the Arab world to be a symbol of the Syrian opposition in the current civil war, this novel provides an essential perspective on the tragedy the Syrian people are living through.