Launch event: “A WOMAN IN THE CROSSFIRE – Diaries of the Syrian Revolution”

9 Jul

This week sees the launch event of A WOMAN IN THE CROSSFIRE by Samar Yazbek.

Description of the book below – it sounds great, I´m looking forward to reading it.  Samar Yazbek will discuss A WOMAN IN THE CROSSFIRE with Omar Al Qattan at the Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0SW on Wednesday, 11 July at 19:00. Doors open at 18:30.

“a compelling personal account of one woman’s journey through the first 100 days of the Syrian popular uprising. As Francis Beckett wrote in the Guardian: ‘it isn’t Yazbek’s task to try to make sense of western foreign policy, and she sensibly makes no attempt to do so. 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.’

“I am in the middle of reading Samar Yazbek’s A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, reads an entry on Marcia Lynx Qualey’, one of the most respected blogs about writing from the Middle East, “and it is very possibly the most painful book-experience I have ever had. … But once you’ve started, and you’ve found that you care about these people — these characters, these people — it’s also difficult to stop.” A WOMAN IN THE CROSSFIRE has been praised by Kirkus as “an essential eyewitness account, and with luck an inaugural document in a Syrian literature that is uncensored and unchained.” ”

RSVP for the reception: +44(0)20 7838 9055

About the Author and her book:

Before mass protests broke out on 15 March 2011, many were sceptical that the radical upsurge then sweeping across the Middle East would ever reach Syria. But spontaneous popular mobilization developed rapidly on the ground as the Syrian people broke the fear barrier and started loudly demanding their rights to dignity, freedom, a just life, and calling for the fall of an autocratic regime that has ruled for more than four decades.

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 time she kept a diary of personal reflections on this historic period. Because of the outspoken views she published in print and online, Yazbek quickly attracted the attention and fury of the regime, who spread vicious rumours about her disloyalty to the homeland and her Alawite community. This lyrical narrative describes her own struggle to protect herself and her young daughter as her activism propels her further into a harrowing labyrinth of insecurity. She is forced from her home into living on the run, detained and assaulted multiple times, excommunicated from the Alawite community and renounced by her family, her hometown and even her childhood friends.

But Samar Yazbek found meaningful community elsewhere, among the courageous activists, young and old, many of whom barely knew each other until this point and who jointly dreamt of bringing an end to a forty-year-old dictatorship. With empathy and journalistic rigour she began to compile testimonies from ordinary Syrians all over the country, 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 in the first place. We meet women who march side by side with men as they reclaim a sense of shared humanity and plundered citizenship; doctors who practise guerrilla medicine and break through into besieged cities such as Dar`a in order to set up field clinics; young people who communicate with one another across regional, sectarian and class boundaries in a way that is unprecedented in Syria as they establish the local coordination committees, which laid the foundation for a new kind of civil society; journalists who find their professional integrity and morality strained to breaking point by a manipulative state media apparatus that is anything but reality-based; soldiers who provide insider knowledge of controversial battles in Jisr al-Shughur and other flashpoints that have been obfuscated by the fog of war.

Filled with snapshots of exhilarating hope and horrifying atrocities, Samar Yazbek offers us a unique perspective on the Syrian uprising in beautifully rendered language. Hers is a modest yet powerful testament to the strength and commitment of countless unnamed Syrians who have united to fight for their freedom. There should be no doubt about the heroism on display in this courageous narrative. 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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