‘Turn your eyes to the sun and die’: Fifi Abou Dib reviews The Wind’s Abode in L’Orient Littéraire

6 March 2023 17 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

rp_SamarYazbek_RaniaStephan-300x224-1.pngA review by Fifi Abou Dib, for L’Orient Littéraire, February 2nd, 2023

Neither dream nor nightmare. But an oak leaf is stuck to one of his eyelids, and Ali cannot move. Is he dead ? Is he alive? Is he in limbo, between two states? The Wind’s Abode by Samar Yazbek is the story of an agony experienced from within, observed from above, between pain, reminiscences, hallucinations and illumination.

“To an observer posted very high in the sky, the decor would appear like a heap of leaves and branches, leaving only two eyes, half-masked by blood and mud, to emerge”. The hand that writes enters those eyes, Ali’s eyes, into that body that has not yet taken its last breath, into that mind that is groping and looking for clues to know if it still belongs to the world of the living. A funeral, cries, his mother… But he is not the one being buried, not yet. This is a reminiscence of his brother’s funeral a year earlier. Is he on the edge of a hole? Can he move?


It was a stupid mistake, this plane flying over Ali’s little patrol, dropping a bomb on the young soldiers that was not intended for them. All are dead and Ali is alone with the tree. He sees his double. And his life continues to unfold before his eyes. “I don’t look with my eyes, I look with my head,” The Redhead had told him. Now he imitates her. This crazy old woman had taught him about trees and so many other things


Throughout the novel, we go back and forth between Ali’s bruised body that nature embraces and his mind that brings back memories and daydreams of his brief 19 year long journey — not even 20. As life slips away from his nasty wounds, he frees himself from everything that may have weighed him down, starting with his country and the dogmatic executioners who have emerged from it. Even his mother is far away now. There is the moon, the tree, dawn. The sumptuous story of a journalist (…) floating over the immense Syrian misfortune. In The Winds’ abode, Samar Yazbek’s writing is exquisitely painful.

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