Women Writers Series: A Few Authors of Syria

    The course Global Literature: Modern Writings from Women of the Non-Western World was one of the most important college classes I’ve ever taken as a writer. Dr. Jo Dulan at Salem College taught this literature course. It allowed me the ability to break out of US literature and explore books on a more global scale from the vital perspective of a woman writer.
    In appreciation of this experience, I have researched a few authors from various countries, provinces, regions, etc. outside of the USA that have translated works available in English; many of the writers have works available in their native tongues and other languages as well. This series is merely a tool to introduce you to a large amount of important writers.
    I do not propose that the written works or the writers that I feature are the most important, the most popular, or are able to speak for an entire identity or culture. Rather, I am hoping to simply give suggestions to create interest in global literature. It is important to recognize writers — especially women, who are often underrepresented — from all parts of the world.
    Keep an open mind as you read. Sometimes things are lost in translation, and sometimes a subject may take more research to understand.
    This post will cover a few authors from Syria. Please feel free to suggest additional authors in the comments.

    Ulfat Idilbi

    Ulfat Idilbi (ألفت الادلبي)–Syrian novel writer by Antimatter genesis/CC BY-SA 4.0
    Ulfat Idilbi (ألفت الادلبي)–Syrian novel writer by Antimatter genesisCC BY-SA 4.0

    Ulfat Idilbi was an important novelist and feminist born in Damascus, Syria.

    Try thisSabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet by Ulfat Idilbi.

    Overview of Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet from amazon.com

    Sabriya portrays life in Damascus in the 1920’s. Central to the story is Sabriya’s journey to self-knowledge, intertwined with the rise and eclipse of national and feminist awareness during her painful life. The national revolt is crushed by superior foreign power and Sabriya’s personal emancipation is stifled by the traditional values of a patriarchal society.

    Written from the point of view of a young girl passionately committed to the nationalist cause but unable, because of her sex, to take an active part, it seethes with the frustrated energy of the reluctant bystander and vividly expresses the terror of civilians living in a city rocked nightly by explosions.

    Learn more about Ulfat Idilbi.

    Samar Yazbek

    Samar Yazbek/Photo by Mathieu Zazzo./Source
    Samar Yazbek (سمر يزبك)/ Photo by Mathieu Zazzo/ Source

    Samar Yazbek is a writer of many genres (news, film, television, pop culture criticism, short stories, and novels). She was born in Jableh, Syria, and has fled from ISIS occupiers and the Assad regime to live in exile in France.

    Try thisThe Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria by Samar Yazbek

    Overview of The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria from barnesandnoble.com:

    Samar Yazbek was well known in her native Syria as a writer and a journalist but, in 2011, she fell foul of the Assad regime and was forced to flee.

    Since then, determined to bear witness to the suffering of her people, she bravely revisited her homeland by squeezing through a hole in the fence on the Turkish border. In The Crossing, she testifies to the appalling reality that is Syria today. From the first innocent demonstrations for democracy, through the beginnings of the Free Syrian Army, to the arrival of ISIS, she offers remarkable snapshots of soldiers, children, ordinary men and women simply trying to stay alive…Some of these stories are of hardship and brutality that is hard to bear, but she also gives testimony to touches of humanity along the way: how people live under the gaze of a sniper…how principled young men try to resist orders from their military superiors…how children cope in the bunkers…

    Yazbek’s portraits of life in Syria are very real, her prose is luminous. The Crossing is undoubtedly both an important historical document and a work of literature.

    Learn more about Samar Yazbek.

    Maha Hassan

    Maha Hassan
    Maha Hassan/ Source

    Maha Hassan is a Syrian-Kurdish journalist and novelist whose works are banned in Syria. She was born in Aleppo.

    Try this: Female Voices by Maha Hassan

    Overview of Female Voices via amazon.com:

    Female Voices is a metafictional novel told through two intertwining stories: the first is the inner monologue of an author writing a novel; the second is the story of the characters she is creating. As both narratives unfold, imagination and reality merge, showing how writing can both liberate and reveal.

    Learn more about Maha Hassan.

    LeeAnn Adams (pen name L. N. Holmes) was born in Wilmington, Ohio. She is a 2013 graduate of Salem College’s creative writing program. Her work has appeared in literary magazines, lifestyle magazines, and a newspaper. She is a foodie, a Christian, an award winning writer, and owns an absurd amount of books. You can find more of her work on her blog, A Vase of Wildflowers. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @LNHolmeswriter. She currently lives in Nebraska with her husband, her two cats, and her dog.


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