Silence is a Sense
Layla AlAmmar, Read by Lara Sawahla

Book cover image

Narrated By: Lara Sawahla

Duration: 8 hours and 19 minutes

What to expect


‘Lyrical, moving, revealing’ TRACY CHEVALIER


‘Such beautiful writing… A little bit Rear Window, a little bit Home Fire, a little bit Shameless. I loved it' LOUISA YOUNG

‘Daring and devastating’ FIONA MOZLEY

A young woman spends her days watching the neighbours through their windows. She is a refugee, who has seen the failure of the Arab Spring in her homeland and who has been traumatized into silence by her brutal journey from Syria to Britain. 

As an outsider, a mute voyeur, she sees everything, she hears everything: the love, the fighting, the families, the secrets, the lies, the sex, the shame.  Slowly drawn into the community that surrounds her, she begins to come to terms with all she has lost. After a brutal attack on the local mosque, she realises she is the only witness to the truth behind the violence. But will she finally speak of all she's seen? 

Rear Window meets Exit West, this beautifully written novel tells the powerful story of one woman’s trauma and her gradual healing.


Modern & contemporary fiction, Narrative theme: Death, grief, loss, Narrative theme: Politics, Narrative theme: Sense of place, Narrative theme: Social issues

Listen to a sample

‘Compelling and original, Silence Is a Sense is uncomfortably close to the bone, depicting a country riven by racism and violence’ OBSERVER

Silence is a Sense is a fierce novel. The prose is ferocious, the pace is ferocious… Layla AlAmmar has skilfully woven a narrative of memory and grief with an illuminating social critique of the position of asylum seekers within contemporary British society. It is daring and devastating’ FIONA MOZLEY

‘A powerful new voice, full of brilliant, sharp observational detail’ NIKITA LALWANI

‘I admire this book. It is an intelligent, insightful novel that asks vital questions about how we can begin to express trauma, and in what form’ GUARDIAN

Silence is a Sense opens the door on lives we need to hear more about. Lyrical, moving, revealing, it made me understand better the very human need for safety and contact’ TRACY CHEVALIER

‘I was properly enthralled: such intelligence, such a deep pure standard of human decency and connection, such beautiful writing. So intriguing and at the same time revelatory, and absolutely on point about trauma. A little bit Rear Window, a little bit Home Fire, a little bit Shameless. I loved it' LOUISA YOUNG

‘A haunting, lyrical novel about hope, healing and redemption’ RED MAGAZINE

‘I've rarely read a book that has made me feel so grounded. Exploring themes of belonging, violence, prejudice and safety, I highly recommend it’ PRIMA MAGAZINE, BOOK OF THE MONTH

‘The new genre: suburbanoir… Expect more riffs on the dark side of the picket fence to come: out this week is Silence Is a Sense by Layla AlAmmar described as “Rear Window meets [Mohsin Hamid’s] Exit West”, which follows a mute Syrian refugee watching her neighbours from her new apartment’ STYLE MAGAZINE