The French prize of the Best Foreign Book was awarded to Yazbek’s The Crossing yesterday!
This is a translation of an article by Gregoire Lemenager for Nouvel Observateur.
The prize for the Best Foreign Book (Meilleur Livre Etranger), the jury of which includes critics and publishers, is awarded on 29 November. There are two awards, one for fiction and one for non-fiction.
In the non-fiction category, the prize was awarded to Samar Yazbek’s The Crossing.
A formidable narrative
The rewarded essay is a formidable narrative in the first person. We owe it to the Syrian Samar Yazbek, now in exile. Since the chaos settled in her country, this woman of exceptional courage has returned three times to Syria, sneaking under barbed wire. She risked her life ten times a day to tell how her compatriots struggle against Daech and Bashar al-Assad.
In her book she says everything: how the helicopters of the regime aim at the souks and the schools to swing their barrels of explosives; How soldiers from elsewhere parasitized the Syrian revolution; How Bashar accommodated himself to the presence of these jihadists to make the international opinion believe that he was a lesser evil; How international public opinion began to swallow his fable while it should have presented him to The Hague as a war criminal “, explained Samar Yazbek last March.
The narrative of Samar Yazbek is not only edifying, it is also overwhelming with humanity and intelligence.
The narrative of Samar Yazbek is not only edifying, it is also overwhelming with humanity and intelligence. It was met with great success abroad, where it was very justly compared to George Orwell’s “Tribute to Catalonia”. “The Crossing” is translated from Arabic by Rania Samara, and prefaced by our colleague Christophe Boltanski (Stock, 302 pp., 20.99 euros). The book must be opened urgently to understand how a revolution can turn into civil war, and civil war lead to apocalypse.
The jury for the Best Foreign Book Prize consists of André Bay (founder of the prize), Daniel Arsand, Manuel Carcassonne, Gérard de Cortanze, Nathalie Crom, Catherine Enjolet, Anne Freyer, Christine Jordis, Jean-Claude Lebrun, Joelle Losfeld, Alexis Liebaert and Joël Schmidt.