Silence is a Sense

Layla Alammar. Algonquin, $25.95 (304) ISBN 978-1-64375-026-2
Alammar’s evocative second novel (after The Pact We Made) delves into the world of a traumatized, mute, and unnamed journalist who has escaped civil war in Syria for England. There, amid recollections of the violence, she occupies herself with her work as a journalist for an English magazine, and in spying on—and occasionally interacting with—neighbors in her apartment complex. The narrator, whose journalism is published under the pseudonym The Voiceless, muses about religious differences among Muslim people in Syria and her fellow immigrants. However, her editor, Josie, wants her to write more about herself to boost her audience. Though Josie initially understands the narrator’s perspective toward her fellow Muslims, she later insists the narrator is “glossing over the very real, unequivocal violence” committed by extremists. Meanwhile, tensions grow at the narrator’s mosque, and a “Unity Feast” is invaded by white supremacists who are angry at the presence of Muslims in the country. Though the pacing is slow, the conflicts over immigration and racism are brilliantly distilled, and they dovetail seamlessly with the narrator’s lyrical, increasingly defiant narration. Patient readers will find much to ponder. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/11/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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