Syrian writer and screenwriter Khaled Khalifa, author of numerous novels that have made him one of his country's most renowned contemporary authors, died of a heart attack in Damascus last night at the age of 59. This was stated by a source close to his family.
A well-known critic of the authorities, the Aleppo-born novelist remained in his country despite the repression and war that broke out in 2011. "I stay because this is my country. I was born there, I live there, I want to die there," he said during a 2019 interview. He is best known for his third novel, 'In Praise of Hate' nominated in 2008 for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and in 2013 for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and translated into several languages. It tells the story of a young Syrian woman from Aleppo, raised in the purest Muslim tradition, who believes she will find freedom by joining a fundamentalist movement that introduces her to the jihadist struggle. In 2013 he won the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Prize awarded by the American University in Cairo.
Khalifa has been remembered by artists, intellectuals and journalists on social networks, as well as by political activists in Syria and abroad. Farouk Mardam Bey, French editor of three of his novels with Actes Sud, wrote: "The strong emotion that overwhelmed social networks as soon as this terrible news was announced is the measure not only of his great talent as a writer, but also of the deep sympathy that aroused his warm personality, overflowing with love for life".
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