Attack on Damascus’s ‘Pen of Steel,’ a Writer in All Languages

Beirut39-winning novelist Samar Yazbek was detained and beaten. Syrian songwriter Ibrahim al-Qashoush, author of a popular anti-regime song, was murdered, his vocal cords apparently ripped from his throat. And now political cartoonist Ali Farzat, Damascus’s “Pen of Steel,” has had his head, arms, and hands severely beaten.


Celebrated Syrian Writers: Hanna Mina and Nizar Qabbani to Present

Syria’s writers are not particularly well known to international audiences—with a few exceptions, such as Adonis and Salwa al-Neimi—but many are celebrated in the Arabic-reading multiverse. The list that follows highlights only a few, with an emphasis on those available in English translation.

Syria’s Young Writers

Yes, you must 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, ‘A Sudden Visitor in This Place’

Yesterday, Jadaliyya published a prose work by Yazbek that reflects events in Syria through the prism of a woman writer. The work, titled “Waiting for Death: I Will Not Carry Flowers to my Grave,” is not assigned a genre, but feels in parts like a prose poem, elsewhere an essay or a memoir fragment.

Qabbani Love Poems for Your Valentine’s Day

The Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) was one of the most popular Arabic-language poets of the twentieth century, well-known for his focus on eroticism and love. As Bassam Frangieh notes in his introduction to Arabian Love Poems, a collection of Qabbani’s work he co-translated with Clementina Brown, “To say that Kabbani was the most popular and famous of contemporary Arab poets is not to claim that he was the most skilled.”

Winter reading

Publications will trip over themselves to tell you what to lug to the beach for “summer reading.” But who can concentrate with all that sun? The best time for reading is when the temperatures are down, at least a bit,… Read More ›