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A Woman in the Crossfire
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World English language only
Diaries of the Syrian Revolution
By Samar Yazbek
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.
Translated from the Arabic by Max Weiss
'an impassioned and harrowing memoir of the early revolt' - The New York Review of Books Full article
'As powerful a book as I've read in years.' - Francis Beckett, The Guardian Full article
'An essential eyewitness account, and with luck an inaugural document in a Syrian literature that is uncensored and unchained.' - Kirkus Reviews Full article
'Many people, including Yazbek, risked their lives to bring us this book. A Woman in the Crossfire is thus an act of fierce resistance against the forces of silencing and simplification. It is anything but an effortless read, but it does wedge open a space wherein, for a moment, it feels possible to genuinely listen.' - Marcia Lynx Qualey, Egypt Independent Full article
'arresting, novelistic prose... uncompromising reportage from a doomed capital' - Justin Marozzi, The Spectator Full article
'the heartbreaking diary of [a woman] who risked her life to document the regime's brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators.' - Trudy Rubin, The Inquirer Full article
'If you want to put a face on the Syrian revolution, try an activist named Samar Yazbek... she brought the cause of the opposition - and its raw human passion for liberation - into focus.' - David Ignatius, Washington Post Full article
'Although Syrian journalists have been killed for broadcasting footage of the violence, Yazbek herself snuck in and out of Syrian via smuggling roads in an effort to reveal the truth.' - The Yale Globalist Full article
'one of Syria's most gifted novelists' - CNN Full article
'the diaries catalogue the bravery, confusion, torment, and mounting brutality [of the revolution]...its importance is in its existence, the efforts of many Syrians to share their stories, and Yazbek's own courage and ability to record them' - The National Full article
'a careful diary of the massacres, the violations, the growing fear and despair...' - globalpost.com Full article
Samar also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Womens' Hour - click here to listen to the interview in full.