"Well crafted, richly imagined and full of vitality. Tamer’s colourful cast includes convicts, rogues, officials, singers and squabbling lovers"—Malcolm Forbes, The National
"This collection shows Tamer at the height of his craft. His short stories in Sour Grapes are wry, iconoclastic, and always arresting."—Nader Uthman, Harvard University, translator of Traces: A Memoir
"Tamer offers few of the usual lazy satisfactions of neighborhood/small-town-fiction but still offers a well-formed world (and world-view) that is consistently (if often also disturbingly) compelling.A solid collection, in comfortably bite-sized pieces."—M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
Set in the Syrian neighborhood of al-Qaweyq, Sour Grapes is a collection of fifty-nine wry, satirical short stories loosely connected by a cast of rotating characters living at society’s margins. Tamer captures their everyday lives, weaving the attendant cruelties and ironies of living under an oppressive regime with the residents’ irreverence and small acts of defiance. Inspired by the heroines of Arab mythology, the women of al-Qaweyq navigate the patriarchal community with brash confidence and dark humor while the younger generation of children inherit a bitter cynicism from their fathers. Evoking under-ripened and immature fruit, the collection’s title serves as a bittersweet metaphor for a world that possesses the seeds of change but is unprepared for the harvest.
Considered a master of the short story, Zakaria Tamer is one of the Arab world’s most prominent and widely read writers. Columbu and Capallera’s fluid translation gives English readers access to Tamer’s original and provocative voice.
Zakaria Tamer is a Syrian writer. He is the author of numerous short story collections including Breaking Knees: Modern Arabic Short Stories from Syria and Tigers on the Tenth Day.
Alessandro Columbu is a lecturer in Arabic at the University of Westminster in London. He is the author of Zakariyya Tamir and the Politics of the Syrian Short Story.
Mireia Costa Capallera is a professional translator. She has a masters degree in Contemporary Arabic Studies and speaks six languages.
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