Watch this space! More books are on their way 

 

The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy

By Yassin Haj Saleh

£10

One of the most prominent intellectual voices of the Syrian revolution, who spent 16 years in the Syrian regime’s prisons, describes with precision and fervour the events that led to Syria’s 2011 uprising and the metamorphosis of the popular revolution into a regional war. Where conventional wisdom has it that Assad’s army is now battling religious fanatics for control of the country, Saleh argues that the emancipatory, democratic mass movement that ignited the revolution still exists, though it is beset on all sides.

 

The Secrets of the Raindrops (In English, Arabic and Kurdish)

By Dima Nachawi

£5

The book tells the story of Lana that goes through a journey to reveal the destiny of her mother who disappears suddenly in the woods. Leaving no trace behind but her name in a raindrop hanging on a branch. A passing by deer hold it in the eyes and vanishes. Lana eventually discovers the secret of the imprisoned names and help her mother and others suffer from the same fate to be free. 

The story was created to highlight the issue of the arbitrary detention against civil activists by different actors. It symbolises the Syrian society’s engagement and struggle for the release of prisoners of consciousness. All proceeds will be donated to ‘Ta’afi’, an initiative by Kesh Malek supporting survivors of detention and torture upon their release to resume their life.

 

Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War

By Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami

£10

Burning Country explores the horrific and complicated reality of life in present-day Syria with unprecedented detail and sophistication, drawing on new first-hand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists among many others.

“For Yassin-Kassab and al-Shami, the Syrian civil revolt was and is built around democratically-minded heroes. It failed, they argue, because of Assad’s ruthless military response and ability to “sectarianize” the conflict, thereby, manipulating the international community’s response” (Kaspar van Laarhoven, Muftah.org)

 

Syria: Recipes from Home

By Dina Mousawi and Itab Azzam

£10

Not only is the book a celebration of the taste, culinary culture and raw materials of Syria, it is also a celebration of what food and memory represent and mean for people and their identity. The authors met Syrian women in the Middle East and in Europe, spending months cooking with them, learning their recipes, and listening to their stories.

Finding, sharing and refining recipes from home is what Itab Azzam and Dina Mousawi live for, for them it’s a way of reconnecting to their homes after fleeing from war and fighting back with the only weapons they have: pots and pans  – The Independent. 

 

 

The Battle for Home: The Memoir of a Syrian Architect

By Marwa Al-Sabouni

£8

 Drawing on the author’s personal experience of living and working as an architect in Syria, this timely and fascinating account offers an eyewitness perspective on the country’s bitter conflict through the lens of architecture, showing how the built environment and its destruction hold up a mirror to the communities that inhabit it.

Al-Sabouni argues that years of misguided and corrupt urban planning have ripped apart the delicate urban and social fabric of Syria’s ancient cities, facilitating the conditions for violence between segregated communities living as strangers in fractured landscapes they can no longer recognise as their own – Open Democracy.

As bombs fell around her, Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni stayed in Homs throughout the civil war, making plans to build hope from carnage. Her ideas are now laid out in a visionary memoir – The Guardian.

 

The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival

By Diana Darke

£10

Barely literate, and supporting his mother and sisters from the age of ten, Abu Chaker built up a business empire, despite twice losing everything he had. Diana Darke follows his tumultuous journey, from instability in Syria and civil war in Lebanon, to his arrival in England in the 1970s, where he rescued a failing Yorkshire textile mill, Hield Bros, and transformed it into a global brand.

In her latest book on Syria, Diana Darke, an old friend of Syria and Celebrating Syria Festival, tells two parallel stories: the life of a cloth merchant and his resilience, and the rich history of a nation built on trade. Over millennia Syria has seen great conflict and turmoil, but like the remarkable story of Abu Chaker, it continues to survive.

 

 

Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience, and the Syrian Revolution

By Professor Miriam Cooke

£8

The book traces the first four years of the Syrian Revolution and the activists’ creative responses to physical and emotional violence.

“It shows how, despite everything thrown at it, the revolution has democratised moral authority, turning artist-activists into the Arab world’s new “organic intellectuals”. As such it is an indispensable corrective to accounts that erase the Syrian people’s agency in favour of grand and often inaccurate geopolitical representations. It is a testament to the essential role of culture anywhere in times of crisis.” (The Guardian)

 

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline

By Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud (eds)

£8

In Syria, culture has become a critical line of defence against tyranny.

Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. It showcases the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters and photographs document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria.

“An invaluable and deeply moving testimony to resistance in word and image” (The Independent)

 

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

By Wendy Pearlman

£10

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

“Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.” (Google Books)

 

 

Assad or we burn the country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

By Sam Dagher 

£10

“There is no way to govern our society except with the shoe over people’s heads,” Sam Dagher quotes the Syrian leader as saying both before and after the unrest began. The Wall Street Journal writer gives a compelling insider account of the deadly ambition of the Assads – The Guardian

 

 

Death is Hard Work

By Khaled Khalifa

£10

Death is so pervasive that it “wasn’t even a source of distress anymore: it had become an escape much envied by the living.” “The inhabitants of the city,” Khalifa insists trenchantly, ironically, “regarded everyone they saw as not so much ‘alive’ as ‘pre-dead.’”

This novel sheds light on life (and death) in the shadows of the Syrian War.

 

Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria’s Kurds

By Thomas Schmidinger

£10

Drawing on interviews with political and religious leaders, civil society activists, artists and fighters, the book claims to address the complexity of the historical conflict and the contemporary situation in Rojava.

 

Under the Wire

By Paul Conroy

£8

“When I escaped from Homs, a lot of people put a lot of effort into getting me out. We were in a tunnel on the first leg of the escape, and there were women and kids there. They said to me: ‘Your friends are dead, our friends are dead, their families are dead, most people are dead, the world isn’t listening; if you get out, tell our story.’ I made a promise to tell their story, and I take that seriously.”

 

The Kurds of Northern Syria: Governance, Diversity and Conflicts

By Harriet Allsopp, Wladimir van Wilgenburg

£10

The authors move beyond idealized images of Rojava and the PYD to provide a nuanced assessment of the Kurdish autonomous experience and the prospects for self-rule in Syria. 

 

Documenting Syria: Film-making, Video Activism and Revolution

By Josepha Ivanka Wessels

£12

Wessels traces how the works of masters of Syrian cinema became iconic for a new generation of filmmakers at the beginning of the 21st century and maps the radical change in the documentary landscape after the revolution of 2011.

 

Dissident Syria: Making Oppositional Arts Official

By Professor Miriam Cooke

£8

A renowned scholar of Arab cultures, Professor Cooke illuminates the complex geopolitical conditions shaping literature and cultural production in Syria today. 

Filled with the voices of writers and artists, Dissident Syria reveals a community of conscience within Syria to those beyond its borders.

Professor Cooke, a renowned scholar of Arab cultures, argues that the Assad regime has attempted to co-opt, or even sponsor, a body of dissident literature, film, and visual art, providing a safety valve, or tanuffus (breathing), which Cooke artfully links to the ‘sahat al-tanuffus’, or breathing yard, of the political prison.

 

Sarmada

By Fadi Azzam

£10

 This is a very Syrian novel, illustrating sectarian co-existence and providing glimpses of the country’s mystical and literary wonders. Liberty, Azzam hints, must break out as surely as smothered sexuality. “All it takes is one breeze to make dust the ruler of the place.” – The Independent

 

Shatila Stories (In English and Arabic)

By Various Writers

£12

Most novels are written by professionals using second hand material. Not this one. The editors have taken nine refugees, taught them the basics of creative writing, and asked them to tell their “Shatila Stories”. The result is a miracle – a piece of collaborative fiction unlike any other.