‘With great sensitivity, the Syrian author Samar Yazbek imagines a metaphorical novel about war, the power of nature and hope’ – Kerenn Elkaim reviews ‘The Winds of Abode’ in Livres Hebdo

6 March 2023 21 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

TheWindsAbode-FRA review by Kerenn Elkaim, for Livres Hebdo, December 16th, 2022                   

Memory is a plague. Nevertheless , it can serve as a torch when everything is in tatters”… Ali oscillates between two states. Is he dead or alive? Even he doesn’t know. He wakes up with his body in pain, at the foot of an oak tree. Unable to move, he takes time to understand that he is not there by chance. An explosion seems to have pulverized his regiment. “He has lost his ability to act, the only thing he has recovered is his consciousness of existing“, but for how long?




Fragments of images arise without warning, those of a funeral that had left him completely lost. “Everything around him was doomed to disappear, like these giant clouds“or certain beings who meant so much to him. The memories come back and propel him into childhood. Sometimes too wise, sometimes moody, the little boy seemed to evolve in his own bubble. “Ali kept his dreams alive by using his ability to live inside his head. This attitude worries his mother, Nahla, an illiterate woman who gave birth to six children, despite a painful past. She closely scrutinizes this little boy who is so different from the others, but he lives in perfect harmony with his environment.”Trees are simple, unlike humans.” So he appreciates their company and that of The Redhead, a strange witch who transmits her knowledge to him. But now their peaceful village is overtaken by the ambient ravages of a torn Syria. Power-hungry, Al-Zein suddenly imposes his rule with a corrupt iron fist. Violence occurs without warning, including in private spheres.


Revolted, the committed Syrian journalist, essayist and novelist Samar Yazbek does not tackle the conflict head-on. Just like in her book “The blue pen” (aka Planet of Clay) she subtly wraps it in a poetic universal tale,“Does death really look like this? Does it reduce us to the state of scattered limbs wandering aimlessly, gradually emptying themselves of their matter to mingle with the earth and the trees? asks his hero, who never abandons the light in the midst of a very dark world.

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