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Breaking Knees

Modern Arabic Short Stories from Syria

by Zakaria Tamer

Imprint: Garnet Authors: Zakaria Tamer Translators: Ibrahim Muhawi Categories: Fiction Tags: Literature in Translation, Middle Eastern literature, Syria ISBN: 9781859642030 Binding: Paperback Publication Date: August 2008 RRP:

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The first of Zakaria Tamer’s collections of stories to be published in English as a complete unit, Breaking Knees is a daring work of art that deals with taboo subjects like religion and sexuality in a frank manner and expresses an urgently felt need for change.
The general theme of Breaking Knees, as of much of Tamer’s work, is repression: of the individual by the institutions of state and religion and of individuals by each other, particularly women by men. Thus the question of authority – political, social, sexual and religious – forms the thematic core of the book, with (female) sexuality receiving the lion’s share of concern.
Political authority is manifest in the emphasis in many stories on the machinations of the police state – arbitrary arrest and detention, interrogations, corruption. Social authority expresses itself in the patriarchal cultural order and dominance of religious and cultural institutions and conventions that constrain individual freedom. Many stories stress religious hypocrisy and the unfilled sexual expectations of women.
In bringing together religion, politics and sexuality (sometimes all three in the same story), the author is telling us indirectly that these forms of oppression are all connected. From the perspective of the countless Arab individuals who have adopted modern values based on democratic institutions and human rights, the state of affairs characterized by political and cultural stagnation, a destructive worship of tradition and a glorification of a mythical past, appears truly dire.

About the author(s):

Zakaria Tamer Zakaria Tamer or Tamir is one of the most important and widely read and translated short story writers in the Arab world, as well as being the foremost author of children’s stories in Arabic. He also writes children's stories and works as a freelance journalist, writing satirical columns in newspapers.
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