Syria’s Young Writers

Yes, you’ll want to read Haidar Haidar, Ghada Samman (a new edition of her Beirut Nightmares was recently released), Hanna Mina, Fawwaz Haddad, Zakaria Tamer, Khaled Khalifa, and many other Syrian writers over 41. More on them tomorrow.

Samar Yazbek, b. 1970
Yazbek was one of the Beirut39 honorees (a list of 39 talented Arab writers under 40), and told interviewer Sousan Hammad: “I believe in being courageous through facing reality in the Arab world, while also being open about discussing its taboos and red lines. This will be a major leap into the direction of developing the [Syrian] society. I do not suggest that literature solely has a reform function, as literature’s premier function is both artistic and aesthetic; nevertheless, discussing taboos will pave the road to eliminating those problems that have long obstructed its development. Of course, I mean talking about politics, sex, and religion in the Arab world.” Her work has recently appeared on Jadaliyya and her story, “Awaiting Death,” appeared on BabelMed, trans. Sahar Ghoussoub.

Raghdah Sa’id Hassan, b. 1972
Ragdah Hassan was arrested in February 2010 and held without charge until earlier this month, when she was released under a selective presidential amnesty. According to Amnesty International, “The Syrian authorities have not revealed the reasons behind Raghdah Hassan’s arrest or any charges brought against her. Amnesty International believes that her arrest may be related to her intention to publish her novel, which describes political conditions in Syria in the 1990s, as well as to suspicions that she is active in an opposition party.”

Fadi Azzam, b. 1973.

Azzam is a Syrian-born freelance journalist who currently works in the UAE. According to translator Adam Talib, Azzam’s new book, Sarmada, is set for release in the coming months, and “is well-layered,” with many surprises.

Rosa Yassin Hassan, b. 1974
Rosa Hassan was another Syrian Beirut39 honoree; her first novel, Ebony, also won the Hanna Mina Prize for the Novel. Speaking on Syria’s literary censorship in The New York Times, Hassan said: “Two people write about the same thing, and one is imprisoned today, the other not. That sends a message, I believe. It is done on purpose to increase fear and apprehension.”

Dima Wannous, b. 1982
Wannous was the third Syrian Beirut39 honoree. She published her first novel, A Chair, in 2008. Read Wannous’s short story, “Sahar,” originally published in Banipal.

Mohammad Al Attar
I’m not sure when Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar was born, although judging from this recent photo, he can’t much older than Wannous. His play, “Withdrawal,” trans. Clem Naylor, was in the very enjoyable 2010 collection Plays from the Arab World.

Tal al-Mallouhi, b. 1991
Blogger and poet Tal al-Mallouhi was arrested in December 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison in February 2011. You can read one of her poems, “You will remain an example,” on the International PEN website. Trans. Ghias Aljundi.

Syrian comics and graphic novels:

17 Syrian comic book artists and animators who live and work in and away from Syria have posted some of their work on Syria Makes Comic. I assume some of them must be young?