A FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS IN TRANSLATED LITERATURE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAIF GHOBASH BANIPAL PRIZE
Abdel Latif, an old man, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. Before he dies, he tells his youngest son Bolbol that his final wish is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya in the Aleppo region. Though Abdel Latif was not the ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, he decides to persuade his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and their father's body to Anabiya - only a two-hour drive from Damascus.
But the country is a warzone. With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies, whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings' decision to set aside their differences and honour their father's request quickly escalates from a dutiful commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria is no longer any place for heroes, and the trials that confront the family along their journey - while they are captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed - will prove to have enormous consequences for them all.
A mixture of brutal, front-line reportage and surreal humor evocative of Beckett and Kafka, Death is Hard Work is an unforgettable journey into a contemporary heart of darkness.