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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Max Brooks

Silence & the Roar

Silence & the Roar - Nihad Sirees I quite liked this novel; it's rather funny, and provides a very urgent and very necessary view at the cracks that can always be found in oppressive regimes. That being said... I didn't find it entirely satisfying, mostly because I don't agree with the premise that laughter, comedy, etc. are a viable way of combating oppression and dictatorship - since cynicism may in fact be a constitutive way of how the novel's "roar" is in fact produced (are we seriously think people in the streets believe everything they chant), rather than being merely a hallmark of those who produce "silence". Sirees is probably aware of this to a certain extent, but I'd argue that it doesn't shine through enough in the novel; the sarcasm isn't quite sharp enough, the characters fall rather short of being delineated as people, all because they seem to be subjected to some sort of "intellectualist white-washing". The final effect is almost a bit elitist; it tinges of patronizing the roar of "the masses", and the awareness that cynicism in fact reaches beyond the better-off and the educated only comes out in a very subtle, very subdued manner.

Again, I'm quite sure Sirees is aware of the underlying issue; but I would find the novel much more effective if it stretched out for another hundred pages, and let the characters some more room to develop, and did away with the Kafka-esque pretensions which seem a bit out of place. Still, I quite liked it; it's well-written, and very Arab, and very necessary in the current moment, when the world's population in general (and not just the Arab Middle East) is being forced to re-think quite fundamentally their relationship with their states and regimes.