Books on Syria and the Syrian Revolution: A Woman in the Crossfire

A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution

Author: Samar Yazbek

Translated from Arabic by: Max Weiss

Publisher: Haus Publishing

Publication Date: 2012

Review

A well-known novelist and journalist from the coastal city of Jableh, Samar Yazbek witnessed the first four months of the uprising first-hand and actively participated in a variety of public actions and budding social movements. Throughout this period she kept a diary of personal reflections on, and observations of, this historic time. Because of the outspoken views she published in print and online, Yazbek quickly attracted the attention and fury of the regime, and vicious rumours started to spread about her disloyalty to the homeland and to the Alawite community that she belongs to. This lyrical narrative weaves together her independent struggle to protect herself and her young daughter even as her activism propels her into a daunting labyrinth of insecurity after she is forced from her home into living on the run and detained multiple times, expelled from the Alawite community and repudiated by her family, her hometown and even her childhood friends.

With rare empathy and journalistic rigour she began to compile oral testimonies from ordinary Syrians, both as a means of documenting contemporary history and as a way for her to better understand the forces that contributed to the outbreak of the uprising. Filled with snapshots of exhilarating hope and horrifying atrocities, Samar Yazbek offers us a wholly unique perspective on the Syrian uprising. Hers is a modest yet powerful testament to the strength and commitment of countless unnamed, individual Syrians who have united to fight for their freedom. These diaries will inspire all those who read them and challenge the world to look anew at the trials and tribulations of the Syrian uprising.

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist, born in Jableh in 1970. She is the author of several works of fiction. Her novel, Cinnamon, is to be published by Arabia Books later this year. An outspoken critic of the Assad regime, but also of what she identifies as erroneous perceptions of ideological conformity within the Syrian Alawite community, Yazbek has been deeply involved in the Syrian uprising since it broke out on 15 March, 2011. Fearing for the life of her daughter she was forced to flee her country and now lives in hiding. Yazbek was awarded the Pen/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award 2012, awarded to an author of outstanding literary merit who casts an ‘unflinching’ eye on the world.

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