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[13 May 2013 | No Comment | 53 views]

I had to return to Syria. Assad’s aircrafts were bombing bakeries, villages and farms. They bombarded civilians with explosives and sent a rain of poison down. In July last year I went back to the north, to the village of Banash, near Idlib. It was here that I saw the real Syria for the first time. The assault was continuous. Snipers were dotted throughout the rebel-controlled areas and Free Syrian Army checkpoints were all along the roads. There was scarcely any sign of extremist Islamists. In towns such as Saraqeb, the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and Muthafar al‑Nawab and songs of love and struggle spread through the streets. The notion of a civil state dominated. The economic situation had deteriorated but was still bearable and sectarian tensions were not high. I travelled between the villages of the liberated north, hearing stories of death and heroism. I had conversations with various factions of the FSA, who spoke of a civil state even though many of them were Islamists.

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[2 Apr 2013 | One Comment | 151 views]
Susan Abulhawa’s impressions on Nasrallah’s Time of white horses

TIME OF WHITE HORSES, by my friend, Ibrahim Nasrallah, was a fabulous read that I had to put down, repeatedly.
I read the first 300 pages of this translated work from the original Arabic in just a few days. Then the world changed and I moved through the next 300 pages slowly, tiptoeing through lives I recognised and characters I came to love. I turned these pages with trepidation for nearly a month, sometimes holding my breath and swallowing hard. I was reading the unfolding of my own life, and the lives of all Palestinians. I knew what was going to happen and in the strange ways of a heart touched by literature, I wanted to warn the characters. I needed them to make different decisions to save us all from our fate; until, I finally came upon the last chapter and stopped. I put the book down and left it there for another 2 weeks.

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[19 Feb 2013 | Comments Off on Yazbek’s Cinnamon in French! A first review | 250 views]

Baffling, poignant and disturbing, this novel will not leave you indifferent.

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[27 Jan 2013 | No Comment | 539 views]
A review of Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of white horses

Nasrallah manages to travel back in time to shape an environment of characters and scenes free of stereotypes and assumptions which a contemporary Westerner might too quickly bring to the table through habits of reading overly contextualized by the arch-narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict post 1948. Drawn into the late 19th and early 20th century life of an Arab community rarely encountered in literature about Palestine, the reader momentarily suspends belief in his own pre-suppositions about the region

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[10 Jan 2013 | No Comment | 240 views]
Alwan’s Beavers is shortlisted for the IPAF!

Mohammad Hasan Alwan’s book Beavers is shortlisted for the International Prize of Arabic Fiction, also known as the Arab Booker!

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[10 Jan 2013 | No Comment | 179 views]

The Syrian writer and journalist Samar Yazbek will be receiving the Oxfam Novib / PEN Award on Thursday, January 17. Samar Yazbek was witness to brutal violence against demonstrating citizens in her country. She wrote about it, then received serious threats and finally had to flee the country with her daughter.
The Oxfam Novib / PEN Award is presented annually to writers and journalists who are being persecuted for their work, or have had to flee.