“Remarkable lyrical form”, “a powerful portrayal of her country’s fragmented soul“ – Pierre de Gasquet reviews Yazbek’s “The Wind’s Abode” for Les Echos

6 March 2023 15 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

rp_SamarYazbek_RaniaStephan-300x224-1-150x150.pngA review by Pierre de Gasquet, for Les Echos, February 13th, 2023

The Syrian writer describes the nightmare of a country fragmented and suffocated by the dictatorship for twelve years. To the greatest indifference of the international community.


Born in the province of Latakia, the most coveted Syrian port since the time of the Crusades, Samar Yazbek has a unique relationship with trees. Maybe because you can’t see their leaves without imagining their roots. Her latest novel, “The Wind’s abode”, published five years after “The blue pen” (aka Planet of clay) in 2018 and several non-fiction books, presents itself as a form of torrential contemporary narrative that springs up in the desert of oblivion.

Except that the young Ali, a young soldier of the Syrian army who lies at the foot of an oak tree, unable to move his injured leg, is neither dead nor completely inanimate. Through this poetic story told in a remarkable lyrical form, the author provides us with a powerful portrayal of her country’s fragmented soul, under occupation by five foreign powers since 2011, against the backdrop of an implacable dictatorship.

Ali’s world is prickled with “check points” which dissipate and reappear from day to day. It’s a world of violence where “the smell of death” hovers. Throughout this melancholic and disturbing monologue, Samar Yazbek wonders about this Syrian soldier’s double status of executioner and victim, who is enrolled in the army against his will. “This is not a nightmare, it is very real”, insists the author of this poetic narrative, who depicts the tragedy of a country that has become “a source of shame to the international community”.

Deconstructing evil

An ardent militant for women rights in her country, author of a chilling documentary about “19 women” in 2019, the Syrian author returns to literature in an attempt to “deconstruct evil” and the violence of oppression.


After three non-fiction books, she now prefers to use the weapon of poetic prose to denounce the “mafia system” of the dictator who has been in power for twenty-three years, despite its violence and war crimes.

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