Friday, 5 July 2019

#WorldReads - Five Books From Syria

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Syria!
Enjoy!

An Ishmael Of Syria by Asaad Almohammad



Adam is a tortured soul. Exiled from his homeland, forced to watch the horrors unfold from afar. His family, still living – or surviving – in war-torn Syria struggle daily to feed, clothe, and educate their children. Adam tries to be a ‘global citizen’ and become a part of his new community in Malaysia, but is constantly faced with intolerance, bigotry, and plain old racism. Opportunities are few and Adam finds himself working long hours for poor pay so that he can help his family. The increasingly distressing news bulletins, along with Adam’s haunting childhood memories, compel him to examine his own beliefs; in God, in humanity, in himself and his integrity as a reluctant bystander in the worst human catastrophe of the twenty-first century.


Butterfly by Yusra Mardini



Yusra Mardini fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015 and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the small and overcrowded boat's engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of the passengers aboard.

Butterfly is the story of that remarkable woman, whose journey started in a war-torn suburb of Damascus and took her through Europe to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Yusra Mardini is an athlete, one of People magazine’s twenty-five women changing the world, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s thirty most influential teens of 2016.


Concerto Al-Quds by Adonis




A cri de coeur or fully imagined poem on the myth and history of Jerusalem/Al-Quds from the author revered as the greatest living Arabic poet. At the age of eighty-six, Adonis, a Syrian poet, critic, essayist, and devoted secularist, has come out of retirement to pen an extended, innovative poem on Jerusalem/Al-Quds. It is a hymn to a troubled city embattled by the conflicting demands of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Adonis's city, as a coveted land, ought to suggest the universal love of humanity; as a land of tragedy, a place of contending history and beliefs, and a locus of bitterness, conflict, hatred, rivalry, and blood. Wrapping multiple voices, historical references, and political viewpoints within his ecstatic lyricism, Adonis has created a provocative work of unique beauty and profound wisdom, beautifully rendered in English by award-winning poet Khaled Mattawa.


A Sky So Close To Us by Shahla Ujayli



A multigenerational tale of love, loss, exile, and rebirth, shortlisted for the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. 

As children sleeping on the rooftop of their ancestral family home in Raqqa on warm summer nights, Joumane and her sisters imagine the sky is so close they can almost touch it. Years later, Joumane lives as an expatriate in Jordan, working for a humanitarian agency, while her sisters remain trapped in war-torn Syria. Living alone as she fights her own battle with cancer, she contemplates the closeness of the same sky, despite the sharply delineated borders that now separate her from her family. Her only close confidant is another exile, a charming, divorced Palestinian man with whom she develops a warm relationship later discovering that their relatives were neighbors in Syria. As Joumane undergoes painful chemotherapy treatments, Nasser slides into the role of her caretaker and partner. She comes to depend on him utterly, at the same time fearing that her vulnerability and need will ultimately drive him away.

Interspersed with Joumanes story is a sweeping historical narrative that moves from nineteenth-century Aleppo, Raqqa, and Damascus, to Palestine before and after the 1948 Nakba, to Iraq before and after the American occupation, and beyond to the United States, Serbia, and Vietnam. Each character in the book is revealed, and linked, through the stories of their ancestors, showing the intergenerational inheritance of trauma and identity. Ujaylis attention to detail and evocative prose brings to life worlds forgotten and ignored, reminding us of the devastation of war and the beauty that people create wherever they go.


The Pianist Of Yarmouk by Aeham Ahmad



A man, a piano, a Syrian street under siege . . .

One morning on the outskirts of war-torn Damascus, a starving man stumbles through a once familiar street - now just piles of rubble. Everything he once knew has been destroyed by famine and war.

In despair he turns to his only comfort and joy, music, and pushes his piano into the street and begins to play. He plays of love and hope, he plays for his family and for his fellow Syrians. He plays even though he knows he could be killed for doing so.

As word of his act of defiance spreads around the world, he becomes a beacon of hope and even resistance. Yet he fears for his wife and children, his elderly parents. And he is right to be scared, because the more he plays, the more he and his family are drawn into danger.

Finally he is forced to make a terrible choice - between staying and waiting to die, or saving himself, but this would mean abandoning his family . . .

Aeham Ahmad's spellbinding and uplifting true story tells of the triumph of love and hope, of the incredible bonds of family, and the healing power of music in even the very darkest of places.


That's it for July's WorldReads from Syria. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Syrian-authored books!

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!




Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited'

Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Jamaica, United States of America,

Asia: India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

Europe: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales

In August I will be highlighting five books by Portuguese authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

6 comments:

  1. I haven't been travelling in my books the last few months so I haven't been taking part, sorry! Most of my books have been US the way it has worked out! I always find it fun to see where you are travelling though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm back in Europe for the next couple of WorldReads - Portuguese authors and then Danish

      Delete
  2. I’ve read a lot of articles about Syria, but I haven’t read any books about it. I’m pretty sure I have a few on my TBR.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The autobiographical books are pretty heartbreaking. It's scary how Syria was so swiftly destroyed

      Delete
  3. All new to me but they sound interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The autobiographies particularly are worth a read

      Delete