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Death Is Hard Work Book Review (2021)

Khaled Khalifa

This novel written by Khaled Khalifa presents a fictional story about war and the hard times of the actual Civil War in Syria. Although the characters are fictional, the story is very much inspired by the real events that devastated Syria back then.

Three Siblings

Inspired by the things people had to suffer through then, Khaled writes this story about three siblings who carry on their father’s last dying wish.

Death Is Hard Work Book

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Death Is Hard Work 8.36/10 192 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Abdel Latif

Their quest seems very easy when you first hear about it, but you later find out that it will prove far more difficult than you think and you can discover a thing or two about what you can expect in the book itself from this Death Is Hard Work book review.

Abdel Latif is the character who starts off the story. He is an old man coming from the Aleppo region who doesn’t actually get involved in the story that comes as he dies in a hospital in Damascus in the very first pages, but not without leaving his last dying wish for his children to make sure they fulfill.


Abdel wishes to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village in Anabiya. He initially sends this wish to his youngest son, Bolbol. Abdel was not what you would call the ideal father but Bolbol still wanted to do this as he would always feel guilty if he didn’t fulfill a dying man’s wish, his father’s wish.

Bolbol is actually not very close to his siblings as well, but he manages to convince his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him to their village home that is only a 2-hour drive away so that they could all see this through as a family.

Harder Than It Looks

From what you have seen in this book review of Death Is Hard Work, you probably think that this so- called mission that these siblings have is nothing special or exciting at all.

But, here is where the twist comes, their country is actually in the middle of a devastating civil war and they have to go through a dangerous and life-threatening battlefield to get to their destination and back. The road that they have to pass through is a literal war zone filled with unpredictable events and dangerous and heavily armed soldiers who might get the wrong idea about them.

Differences Aside

Bolbol, Hussein, and Fatima had decided to put their differences aside and honor their father’s last dying wish as it was the right thing to do and their minor commitment to an honorable cause later transforms into a battle for survival through the war zone of the Syrian Civil War. The things that you will see happen to these siblings are definitely no ordinary everyday things. If you like this topic, we made for you a selection of the best Syrian Civil War books. Don’t miss it out.

Exciting and Unpredictable

We won’t spoil any major events in this Death Is Hard Work book review but what you get to see as you read the story are exciting and unpredictable events like the characters being captured and recaptured again, figuring out ways to escape this danger, they find themselves being interrogated as if they were on a top-secret mission of some kind, they become scared to death when they even get imprisoned and they have to witness bombings close to them as they try to survive all of this mess and just get to Damascus.

Fictional, Yet Real

You get to find out if they manage to survive and deliver the body to Damascus or if everything falls apart and they just try to get out of all the danger. Khaled Khalifa writes one of the best books about the Syrian Civil War and even though it’s a fictional story, the danger that these characters had to go through is definitely real in a time of war.

Michael Englert
Michael Englert
Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.