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Süddeutsche Zeitung reviews Yazbek’s ‘In the crossfire’

Review by Christiane Schlötzer for Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 7th, 2012
Approximate translation of excerpts with Google.

She carries a knife for self defense. But what is asmall sharp folding knife against tanks and shelling? As Samar Yazbek walks through the streets of her city, she feels she is on a “death party”. “How have I learned to distinguish between intelligence and ordinary people in Damascus?” the 41-year-old Syrian novelist asks herself, yet always full of wonder as to how her life so abruptly turned into a nightmare, neighbors into spies, even her own friends into enemies, and the fear pushed away the beloved ones into the shadow.

One is reminded of the chronicles of the Bosnian war as one reads Yazbek’s notes from the inside: the disintegration of society, a directed propaganda, unimaginable brutality against all who dare to oppose the power of the state. Bosnia, Kosovo, Iran: it’s a similar story. Except that in Syria, because the regime in Damascus protects itself from unwanted eyes with the refusal of visas for journalists,
this story cannot be read. And whoever gets into the country, is targeted. There remains the seemingly inexhaustible mobile phone pictures on Youtube, Twitter messages, and scarce testimonies of those who escaped the Syrian boundaries.

(…) Yazbek’s language is at times poetic, but mostly straightforward, with the factual sound of someone familiar with the various
places of Syria (…)

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