A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution

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Overview

A well-known novelist and journalist from the coastal city of Jableh, Samar Yazbek witnessed the beginning 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, vicious rumours started to spread about her ...

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A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution

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Overview

A well-known novelist and journalist from the coastal city of Jableh, Samar Yazbek witnessed the beginning 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, vicious rumours started to spread about her disloyalty to the homeland and the Alawite community to which she belongs. The lyrical narrative describes her struggle to protect herself and her young daughter, even as her activism propels her into a horrifying labyrinth of insecurity after she is forced into living on the run and detained multiple times, excluded from the Alawite community and renounced by her family, her hometown and even her childhood friends. With rare empathy and journalistic prowess Samar Yazbek compiled oral testimonies from ordinary Syrians all over the country. Filled with snapshots of exhilarating hope and horrifying atrocities, she 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 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An essential eyewitness account, and with luck an inaugural document in a Syrian literature that is uncensored and unchained."—Kirkus Reviews

"She has the novelist's eye for telling detail…Hers is the urgent task of showing the world what is happening. Thanks to her, we can read about the appalling things that go on in secret, underground places."—The Guardian

"Her book is infused with a hauntingly poetic narrative style. Chilling, disturbing, but irresistibly compelling."—The Daily Star

"Four new books confront the [Syrian] revolution head-on…Of the four writers, Samar Yazbek provides the most arresting, novelistic prose…uncompromising reportage from a doomed capital."—The Spectator

"Impassioned and harrowing memoir of the early revolt…"—New York Review of Books

"The heartbreaking diary of…a Syrian who risked her life to document the regime's brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators."—The Inquirer

"Its importance is in its existence, the effort of so many Syrians to share their stories and Yazbek's own courage and ability to record them."—The National

"It's heavy and horrible, like so much related to the war. But the book also reminds that Syria is—was—utterly beautiful."—CNN

'If you want to put a face on the Syrian revolution, try an activist named Samar Yazbek…she’s a walking refutation of the argument that the conflict in Syria is simply a sectarian civil war between Assad’s Alawites and the Sunni majority. —David Ignatius, Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews
Haunting memoir of an unwanted season in the hellish combat of civil war. Syrian writer and filmmaker Yazbek, a member of the literary movement called the Beirut39, will be new to most readers outside the Middle East. Both beautifully written--sometimes incongruously so, given the subject matter--and relentless, her narrative opens with the heady days of the Arab Spring, when the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt were giving way to popular uprisings and the edifice of Syria's security state was being shaken by an awakened people. "They could not and would not believe that this army of slaves, whom they called ‘insects' or ‘rats,' could ever rise up against them," writes the Syrian-German novelist Rafik Schami in his foreword of the stunningly corrupt Assad regime. But on March 15 of last year, the "slaves" did revolt. The regime hit back hard, spraying crowds of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators with bullets. As Yazbek writes, almost by way of prelude to this terrible chronicle of events experienced firsthand, "Death is no longer a question. Death is a window we open up to our questions." Death is also a constant, grim companion in these pages; it drew close as undercover agents interrogated and harassed Yazbek, receding as, eventually, she fled the country. The images she paints are indelible, pictures of "men on their stomachs in handcuffs, humiliated and insulted," and of youngsters defiantly baring their chests to the security police before being gunned down. "Sure, I was panicked," she writes, "but through that panic I learned how to cultivate a dark patch in my heart, a zone that no one can reach, one that remains fixed, where not even death can penetrate." An essential eyewitness account, and with luck an inaugural document in a Syrian literature that is uncensored and unchained.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781908323125
  • Publisher: Haus Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 426,627
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist, born in Jableh in 1970. She is the author of several works of fiction. 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 in 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 in 2012, awarded to an author of outstanding literary merit who casts an 'unflinching' eye on the world. She is also the author of the novel Cinnamon (2012).

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