The Foghorn Echoes
by Danny Ramadan
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Pub Date 1 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 1 Sep 2022
Hussam and Wassim are teenage boys living in Syria during America's 2003 invasion of Iraq. When a surprise discovery results in tragedy, their lives, and those of their families, are shattered. Wassim promises Hussam his protection, but ten years into the future, he has failed to keep his promise. Wassim is on the streets, seeking shelter from both the city and the civil war storming his country. Meanwhile Hussam, now on the other side of the world, remains haunted by his own ghosts, doing his utmost to drown them out with every vice imaginable.
Split between war-torn Damascus and Vancouver, The Foghorn Echoes is a tragic love story about coping with shared traumatic experience and devastating separation. As Hussam and Wassim come to terms with the past, they begin to realise the secret that haunts them is not the only secret that formed them.
‘Contemporary, mystical, timeless. . .The Foghorn Echoes gives me a similar feeling to that which I had with The Kite Runner, of characters haunted by love and hunted by loss, across oceans, timelines and warzones. The story is so specific, yet it speaks of all love. When I finished The Foghorn Echoes, I felt that I had read a fiction which was unquestionably, undeniably true’
LEMN SISSAY author of My Name is Why and Gold from the Stone
‘'Treat your thoughts like hurt children. They haven’t learned yet how to handle pain’. So says a wise ghost in Danny Ramadan’s sweeping and mesmerising story that spans time and mortal space so expertly and elegantly. This is a beautiful novel, written by a once hurt child and loved and deeply admired by another, me’
‘The Foghorn Echoes is a deeply moving book about conflict both internal and external, the ways in which cold accidents—of birth, of place, of time—can leave a human being at war with their own desires, their own sense of self. Danny Ramadan is a gifted, sensitive excavator of the things that break people and put them back together, the past as weight and lightness. In this novel he has created a world of immense sensory and emotional precision, at once true in its living details and yet electric with the presence of ghosts’
OMAR EL AKKAD author of What Strange Paradise and American War
‘The Foghorn Echoes bristles. It burns bright. It shouts into the dark with a voice that hovers between a melody and a lamentation. Danny Ramadan writes in these pages with a spellbinding urgency, stripping bare some of the most painful and fundamental truths about displacement and grief, about rage and betrayal. In the process, he reminds us again and again that even the worst of memories contain redemptive powers. This novel is a tender and impassioned love story for a country, for a people, and for all those who refuse to disappear quietly into the land of the forgotten’
MAAZA MENGISTE, author of The Shadow King, Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize
‘I’ve read many stories about love and war. Few have moved me this much. The Foghorn Echoes is marvellous: subtle but dramatic, tender but urgent, and beautifully written. I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time’
DINA NAYERI author of The Ungrateful Refugee
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 6 members
Teenage boys Hussam and Wassim are growing up on the streets of Syria during the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Their lives are upended by secrets and tragedy. Ten years later, Wassim is living in Vancouver, lost, indulging in vice to numb his shame and guilt over his actions in Syria.
The narrative unfolds over alternating chapters as we see the consequences of past events played out in Vancouver and those events in Syria. There is a propulsive quality to Ramadan's prose, and I tore through this novel in one sitting. He draws Wassim with excellent skill, and you are in his head in no time, feeling all the rush of lust and loss and life as this troubled young man tries to find a way through his pain. That there is a tender love story playing out between the pain makes the story more tragic. And yet there is hope here too, so much hope.
This novel marks Danny Ramadan out as a voice to watch, and off its back I will be seeking out his first novel.
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the ARC.
Thank you for the digital review copy Canongate.
I have been wanting to read this book since its announcement and the waiting, strangely, as I am usually a very impatient person, made the reading experience even more precious than expected.. The Foghorn Echoes is an exemplary literary work all other novels (in the same subgenre) should take notes from.
A really insightful exploration of both queerness and war, The Foghorn Echoes follows two extremely contrasting stories that run parallel alongside one another. found that the alternating POV’s each chapter jumped from Vancouver to Syria smoothly without feeling jarring. I found the prose really enjoyable and engaging with a well paced narrative. The only aspect I struggled with slightly was finding a real connection between Wassim and Hussam after that first kiss. Overall though a very important read.
This is a touching story about two teenage boys Hassam and Wasim, set in Syria at a time when Americans invaded Iraq. Hassam and Wasim they fall in love and while they were kissing, Hassam's father caught them and eventually lead to his death. The two boys became estranged afterwards. Now ten years later, Hassam lives in Vancouver, Canada and is openly gay while Wasim still lives in Syria living through the war. The story tells about the lives of these two boys at a time when war erupted in Syria and Hassam's life as a refugee in Canada.
I have to say, I do like how the story divides between Damascus and Vancouver so the reader will able to get to know both the characters well. I do like how Wasim forms a relationship with a ghost woman named Kalia while living in the abandoned house and how he shares all his secrets with Kalia. Wasim also struggles with his marriage to Rima and his relationship with his child. I actually enjoyed reading those parts. I also liked Hassam's lifestyle in Canada, how he lives a free life as a gay man. The author had beautifully written the story, making the story whole realistic so we would know what it is really like, living as a gay man in Syria. I also like the author's style of writing and how it draws the reader into the story. This is one of the unique books I have read and the ending was great as both the boys moved on with their own lives. Truly an emotional and heartbreaking story that will capture the reader--worth five stars!
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.
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