A tale in which a civil servant is tortured because of an accidental blot on a dictator’s face is true, Syrian author Nihad Sirees has said.
Sirees confirmed the story, in which the employee is blamed for the malfunction of a photocopier, at the launch of the first English publication of the book, The Silence and the Roar.
He said the man was still alive: “The same thing happened to him and he disappeared for six months.
“There is a caricature in the book that the face was like a pirate, but this is a true story.”
Sirees, an acclaimed Arabic novelist and playwright, left Syria in January 2012 after the authorities put him under surveillance.
He said the book, set in an unnamed dictatorship, drew on his own experiences: “Any writer has to write from his biography. The whole of the novel is not about my life, but there are a lot of things from my biography.”
Sirees was was speaking alongside fellow exile poet Golan Haji and the British-Syrian writer Robin Yassin-Kassab at the Southbank Centre.