[Books] Writing Revolution: The Voices from Tunis to Damascus

 PEN PROMOTES white on black



Edited by Matthew Cassel, Layla Al-Zubaidi, Nemonie Craven Roderick

Translated from the Arabic by Robin Moger and from the French by Georgina Collins

Published by IB TaurisWriting Revolution-cover

From Cairo to Damascus and from Tunisia to Bahrain, Layla Al-Zubaidi and Matthew Cassel have brought together some of the most exciting new writing born out of revolution in the Arab world. This is a remarkable collection of testimony, entirely composed by participants in, and witnesses to, the profound changes shaking their region. Situated between past, present and future – in a space where the personal and the political collide – these voices are part of an ongoing process, one that is at once hopeful and heartbreaking. Unique amongst material emanating from and about the convulsions in the Arab Middle East, these creative and original writers speak of history, determination and struggle, as well as of political and poetic engagement with questions of identity and activism. This book gives a moving and inspiring insight into the Arab revolutions and uprisings: why they are happening and what might come next.


Matthew Cassel is a journalist and photographer covering the Middle East for Al Jazeera English. Cassel first learned about the region through his human rights and media work in Palestinian refugee camps. Over the past decade he has worked in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain and elsewhere. Formerly Assistant Editor of the The Electronic Intifada online journal, he is connected to activists, journalists, writers, artists and others at the forefront of the movement for change in the region.

Nemonie Craven Roderick is a literary agent. She has contributed to Sight & Sound, Roads & Kingdoms and The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, amongst other publications.

Layla Al-Zubaidi is Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in South Africa, and was previously based in Beirut and Ramallah. She has published on cultural resistance and freedom of expression, and is co-editor of Democratic Transition in the Middle East: Unmaking Power (Routledge, 2012). She is also on the Executive Committee of Freemuse — World Forum on Music and Censorship.


Ali Aldairy is a Bahraini researcher, linguist and cultural critic, interested in philosophy and religion. He is the author of several books and maintains his own website (//aldairy.ws). As a long standing activist he has been struggling since the Bahraini uprising in 2011 and was forced to leave the country. In exile he founded the online Arabic newspaper Mira’at al-Bahrain (The Bahrain Mirror).

Safa Al Ahmad is a Saudi freelance journalist based in the Middle East. She has worked both in print and for TV, for major channels in the region, and was a finalist for the 2012 Rory Peck awards for freelance journalism. With the start of the second intifada she traveled to Palestine, then on to Lebanon, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya, among others.
Khawla Dunia is a lawyer, writer and researcher from Damascus, a member of the editorial board of The Damascus Center for Theoretical Studies and Civil Rights. She has published several studies, including Syrian Women between Reality and Ambition, Report on the Damascus Declaration Detainees and reports on elections and political issues. She is now active in the protests and writes about them on the Arabic website Safhat Suriya (Syria Pages).

Jamal Jubran is a journalist, poet and author, based in Sanaa. He regularly contributes to Beirut-based Al-Akhbar English and his articles have been translated and published in a number of international publications. He also has taught at Sanaa University, but was expelled because of his political activities. Before and during the Yemeni uprising, he was active in the group around Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman.

Mohamed Mesrati was born in 1990 in Tripoli, Libya. He is a writer and activist, and an extract from his novel-in-progress Mama Pizza appeared in Banipal No. 40.

Ghania Mouffok is a journalist based in Algiers. She is a correspondent for TV5 MONDE and hosts the blog Une femme à sa fenêtre (A Woman at her Window) on the channel’s website. She writes for various journals, including Le Monde Diplomatique, the Swiss La Liberté, and the Algerian online-journal Maghreb Emergent. She is also an engaged feminist and human rights activist and collaborates with the UN and civil society organizations. Among her publications are Une autre voie pour l’Algérie (with Louisa Hanoune, 1995), Etre journaliste en Algérie (1996) and Apprendre à vivre ensemble (2011).

Yasmine El Rashidi is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a contributing editor to the Middle East arts and culture quarterly Bidoun. A collection of her writings on the Egyptian uprising, The Battle for Egypt, was published in 2011. She lives in Cairo.

Malek Sghiri is a 25-year old student of Contemporary History at the April 9 College of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Tunis. He is a political activist, blogger, trade unionist and leader of the General Union of Tunisian Students. He founded the movement Jil Jadid (New Generation), participated in student demonstrations in Tunis, in the revolt of Thala, and in the mass protests against the rule of Ben Ali that took in place in Tadamon. He was arrested and detained at the Ministry of Interior on 11 January and later released on 18 January 2011.

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist. She was born in Jableh in 1970, and was forced into exile following her criticism of the Asad regime and involvement in the Syrian uprising. In 2012, she won the PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage prize for her book A Woman in Crossfire and the PEN Tucholsky prize in Sweden, and is soon to be awarded the PEN OXFAM prize in the Netherlands. She is the author of numerous works of fiction and was selected as one of the Beirut39 in 2010.


Robin Moger is an Arabic translator currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. From 2001 to 2007 he lived in Egypt, where he worked variously as a journalist, translator and interpreter. He has translated the novels A Dog With No Tail by Hamdi Abu Gollayel (2009) and Vertigo by Ahmed Mourad (2011), and is a regular contributor to Banipal.

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