A Slap in the Face
In our era of mass migration, much of it driven by war and its aftermath, A Slap in the Face could not be more timely. It tells the story of Karim, an Iraqi refugee living in Germany whose right to asylum has been revoked in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s defeat. But Hussein wasn’t the only reason Karim left, and as Abbas Khider unfolds his story, we learn both the secret struggles he faced in his homeland and the battles with prejudice, distrust, poverty, and bureaucracy he has to endure in his attempts to make a new life in Germany. As he erupts in frustration at his caseworker, and finally forces her to listen to his story, we get an account of a contemporary life upended by politics and violence, told with a warmth and humor that, while surprising us, does nothing to lessen the outrages Karim describes.
‘A Slap in the Face is a vivid and often moving portrayal of the prejudice, economic exploitation and simple unfairness facing those seeking to find a European haven from war and persecution. . . . Abbas Khider may just be the Michel Houellebecq of Iraqi refugee novelists.’—Times Literary Supplement. Read the review here.
‘Khider is a master in mirroring existential despair in small moments of absurd and other comedy.’ —Frankfurter Rundschau
‘Khider has written a book that is at once crude and sensitive, interspersed with humour that only lasts a few seconds before the reader realises that the elicited smiles are all at the expense of the oppressed, in this case, the refugees. This is perhaps the strongest realisation that bridges the gap between the concept of refugees as portrayed by media and politics, and the refugees' humanity, tarnished by the constant closing doors of opportunity.’ —The New Arab
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