Apple Cake and Baklava

Apple Cake and Baklava, by Kathrin Rohmann, is a novel for late primary kids and early secondary, dealing with asylum, how it feels to be a refugee, parallels between WWII and Syria, grandmas, recipes, a lost walnut that means the world and a budding friendship between Max and Leila. I love this book and can’t wait to see it in UK schools and libraries from … Continue reading Apple Cake and Baklava

The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria

By: Samar Yazbek Translated by: Nashwa Gowanlock and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp Published: Rider Books (Penguin Random House) 2015 Reviews ‘The Crossing is not simply reportage or political analysis. It bears comparison with George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia as a work of literature. Yazbek is a superb narrator who knows how to pace her text, craft dialogue and convey a universal sense of grief; this is how she crosses … Continue reading The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria

The Shell: Memoirs of a Hidden Observer

Review of Al-Qawqa’a (The Shell), by Mustafa Khalifa Spoiler alert: this report contains a detailed outline of the plot. The is one of three Syrian books being considered for translation by the And Other Stories Arabic reading group and this is my case for why it should indeed be translated! Update, summer 2015: my extracts of this book were published in The Massachusetts Review vol … Continue reading The Shell: Memoirs of a Hidden Observer

Samar Yazbek in The Washington Post

I am two women. They stand head to head, at loggerheads.  The revolutionary in me joined what started as peaceful demonstrations against the Syrian government in March 2011.  The novelist in me fled to France that July.  The revolutionary, who has several times since then furtively crossed the border back into her country, is steeped in the smell of blood. She wipes the dust off … Continue reading Samar Yazbek in The Washington Post