A Woman in the Crossfire

Samar Yazbek / Foreward by Rafik Schami / translated by Max Weiss



‘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

‘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.’
Egypt Independent

It is a hard, painful read, not only for what Yazbek witnesses and suffers but also for that of the other Syrians that she interviews. Their testimonies come through on the page as atrocities happen all around her.’
The National



It’s heavy and horrible, like sp much related to the war. But the book also reminds us that Syria is – was – utterly beautiful. Yazbek takes us to its mountains. We can smell its lemon tress and ride along its country roads.’

it offers a unique window into the anguish of Syria: an intimate journey into the head and heart of a woman trying to maintain her sanity, humanity and, above all, love for her deeply wounded nation...’
The Globe and Mail

‘A Woman in the Crossfire is [Yazbek’s] diary of the first four months of the revolution, in which she mixes first-person chronicles of her everyday life and exclusive testimonies of various eye-witnesses (doctors, officers, activists). Some of her chronicles were initially published in the Arab press as early as during spring 2011; hence Yazbek was one of the first voices to describe that reality of the Syrian uprising from the inside.’
Mashallah News

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

‘A powerful account conveying the idealism and fear that united diverse religious and ethnic groups in Syria to rise against their autocratic government, with the outcome still uncertain.’
Library Journal

the heartbreaking diary of Samar Yazbek, a Syrian who risked her life to document the regime’s brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators.’
Trudy Rubin, The Mercury News

‘This is a handbook for nonviolent activists.’
Mary Russell, author of The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt


March 2011. Seemingly out of nowhere, a small demonstration by young people in Dar’a lights the touch paper and ignites the country. The demonstrations and the Assad regime’s brutal response intensify until the country is consumed by the next popular revolution of the Arab Spring.

A Woman in the Crossfire is Samar Yazbek’s haunting account of her experience of the uprising. Denounced by her family and clan for her vocal opposition to the regime, forced to live on the run with her daughter and detained on multiple occasions by the authorities, she continued to record the testimonies of figures in the Opposition, documenting their role and hers in the burgeoning movement. Yazbek captures it all in the poetic language of a woman trying to come to terms with the horrific scenes being played out on the streets of the country she loves.

This is a wholly unique perspective on a devastating conflict and a moving testament to the courage and vision of the Syrian people.

SAMAR YAZBEK is a Syrian writer and journalist, born in Jableh in 1970. She is the author of several works of fiction in Arabic and her novel, including Cinnamon, is published by Arabia Books in English. An outspoken critic of the Assad regime, 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.

Find Samar on Twitter @SamarYazbek

MAX WEISS is a historian of the modern Middle East and a translator of Arabic literature.



Read the New York Times profile on Samar here.

Read Samar’s interview with Nayla Mansour here.

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