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Damascus forever. Since leaving the pearl of the Arab Middle East, with its fascinating past and uncertain present, I have embarked on an intellectual adventure of exploration into the intricacies of a country whose atmosphere of harmony, which I like to recall, belied a grim reality of deep resentment, frustration and anger that I was unable to discover during my brief but intense experience.

It was indeed through the literature of Zakaria Tamer that I began this adventure, struck as I was by the disparity between the “harmony” that Syria, and Damascus in particular, liked to display to outsiders on the one hand, and the hallucinatory, violent, upsetting and lugubrious atmosphere of some of Tamer’s stories on the other.

The episodes that typify Tamer’s collections seemed to hint, since I started reading them as a student, at the hidden, the unmentionable, at the innermost corners of the Syrian collective consciousness where the unspeakable finds its abode. The curiosity that pushed me to discover the reality from which his stories emerge and the despair that they try to voice was soon satisfied in 2011 when the

84 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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