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Jakarta Post

Leaps of faith and faithlessness

  • Sara Veal


Jakarta   /   Sun, October 4 2009   /  11:57 am

Taking place over the course of a long London summer in 2001, Robin Yassin-Kassab's debut novel offers a nuanced depiction of Islam, and explores religion, identity and love among an increasingly post-cultural society. Sami Traifi, a second-generation Londoner of Syrian origin, is a mess. He was meant to follow in his late father's footsteps, and become a renowned specialist in Arabic poetry. However, ten years on from completing his undergraduate degree, the PhD remains elusive, and both his self-belief and marriage are rapidly disintegrating. Rather than "leaping forth from the giant's shoulders" as he'd hoped, he seems firmly stuck in his father's shadow. A last-ditch trip to visit relatives in Damascus turns up an unpleasant family secret that adds to his turmoil, which he chooses to elude with copious spliffs. His wife Muntaha, the love of his life, is finally running out ...