DEATH OF A MONK
Damascus 1840. Aslan Farhi's quiet, sheltered life is turned upside down when his brutish father, a wealthy businessman, decides he should wed. Aslan finds the wedding a painful ordeal, lightened only by the presence of the exotic dancer, Umm-Jihan, by whom he becomes entranced. Unable to come to terms with his wife, who has moved into the family home, Aslan visits his friend Suleiman the barber who tells him of the Maqha cafeacute;, a place strictly forbidden to Jews, on the border between the Christian and Muslim Quarters. Here in this seedy den of vice Aslan meets Umm-Jihan again. This vision of beauty awakens a dormant desire for women. But all is not as it seems and Aslan is soon deeply upset; confused and at a loss he embarks on ill-advised liaison with another man, with disastrous consequences. The Damascus of Death of A Monk is a rich and vibrant place; lively, sensual and at the same time teeming with fear and hostility. Through the dark alleyways and bustling marketplaces Hilu unfolds a story charged with emotional and sexual conflict. A powerful literary tour de force from a unique new voice; at times wickedly funny, at others painfully sad, but beautifully told throughout. A stunning debut.