The Wind’s Abode

| Maqam al rih

Al mutawassit, Milano, Italy, 2021, 144 pages

The wind's abode



Ali, a 19 year old soldier in the Syrian army, is laying on the ground underneath a tree. He has a vision, that of a funeral. Is this his funeral? Is that woman hugging the coffin Nahla, his mother? As he comes to his senses, Ali remembers: This was his brother’s funeral. About a year ago perhaps. At that moment, Ali realizes he must have been hurt by the bomb the army dropped on them by mistake earlier that day.
Yazbek’s latest novel concentrates on these hours of Ali’s life. As he tries to locate the pain, to identify the injury, Ali works his way closer to the tree. His ultimate desire is to fly up to one of its branches. Trees have always been his haven, his home. Trees have no secret to him. Up there, he would be safe from wild animals after sunset. All that while, Ali goes over the various episodes of his life, leading to the conclusive encounter with an army checkpoint where he is drafted, or rather abducted.
Through Ali’s childhood and teens, we discover the misery of that traditional Syrian Alawite village, but also the richness and beauty of its cultural and religious heritage. Through Ali’s vocation to be the village’s next Cheikh, or religious reference, the novel explores the secrets of the Alawite faith, its relationship to nature and the elements (the moon, rocks, trees and wind), as well as its peacefulness. The contrast with the Alawite governing mafia and the cruelty of the war is stark, and painful.


Nothing destined Ali to violence. A silent and contemplative child, unfit for school, many thought he was an idiot. The strange story of his birth, where the wise and old Hmayrona made her entrance into his life, seemed to have destined him to mysticism, and to a special relationship to the surrounding nature. A strong and agile boy, Ali would run barefoot on rocks, leave his feet hanging from the windy cliff, and climb up trees so swiftly, one would think he was flying.
Once again, Yazbek tackles the Syrian war, but this time, from a distance. With The wind’s abode, Samar Yazbek comes back to one of her favorite topics: the Alawite community’s transformation, its aesthetics and its faith. While the Syrian war indubitably offers the framework of this story, its heart is elsewhere. With this poignant story, Yazbek writes about the beauty and the cruelty of life, the destruction of worldly beauty and kindness,  but also its resilience, and the elevation of the soul.
Similarly to Ali’s, the words of this novel are sparse. No scene or description is superfluous, and Yazbek’s writing is as delicate as Ali’s gaze upon the world. With The wind’s abode, Yazbek offers her finest novel to date.

Translation sample

Translation sample coming soon



RAYA represents the author for the world rights of this title.

Check Samar Yazbek‘s page for the rights situation of this title.

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