Khaled Khalifa (Arabic: خالد خليفة), / Aleppo (Syria, 1964.) is a novelist, screenwriter and poet. Some of his works which are critical of the Syrian government under Baathist rule have been banned by the Syrian government.
He wrote poetry and was a member of the Literary Forum there.
As a screenwriter, Khalifa has written several television dramas, documentaries, short films, and the feature-length film. His first novel, Haris al-Khadi’a (“The Guard of Deception”), was published in 1993. His second novel, Dafatir al-Qurbat (“The Gypsy Notebooks”), was suppressed by the Union of Arab Writers for four years after its publication in 2000.
Khalifa says these sort of book bans come from a bureaucracy which does not represent the higher levels of government, and he favors negotiation between artists and Syrian authorities to facilitate freedom of speech. His work is not intended to advocate any political ideology.
Discussing In Praise of Hatred, he said “above all, I wrote this novel in defense of the Syrian people and in order to protest against the suffering they have endured as a result of the religious and political dogmas that have tried to negate their ten-thousand-year civilisation.” In Praise of Hatred was a finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (2008).
His fourth novel was La sakakin fi matabikh hadhihi al-madina (“No Knives in this City’s Kitchens”), published in Cairo in 2013. It is about the “price that Syrians have paid under the rule of the Baath party” as headed by President Bashaar Al-Assad. It won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. It was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (2014).