Zoe Rutherford of Haus Publishing reports on Samar Yazbek’s recent visit the UK
Syrian journalist and author of A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, Samar Yazbek, visited the UK in July 2012 to launch the English language edition of the book, translated by Max Weiss and published by Haus Publishing.
Yazbek, who won English PEN’s Writers in Translation award for A Woman in the Crossfire, was due to arrive in London on Saturday 7th July but was prevented from entering the country. The author had fled Syria in July 2011 and been granted refugee status by France. Yazbek and her publishers received confirmation from the Home Office and the British embassy in Paris that she would not need a visa to travel within the EU.
Despite these assurances, she was informed at the border that she would indeed need a visa to enter the UK, and a frustrating wait of almost a week followed
before the visa was granted. A talk by Yazbek at the Telegraph Ways with Words Festival at Dartington Hall had to be cancelled, along with the official launch event for the book, which was due to be hosted by the A M Qattan Foundation at the Mosaic Rooms.
Despite these early problems, the eventual visit was a huge success. Yazbek arrived on Friday 13th July and began an intensive week of interviews and appearances, including pieces for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, CNN International TV, Monocle 24 Radio and BBC World Service’s The World Today Weekend. The highlight of the week was an event at the Frontline Club in Paddington on Tuesday 17th July, which was chaired by renowned author, translator and Syria expert, Peter Clark. The event, which was attended by almost 100 people, was streamed live on the internet and the video can be viewed below and on the Frontline Club’s website
Yazbek spoke about the beginnings of the revolution and her role in the burgeoning Opposition movement. She also discussed the latest developments in her country and her thoughts on how the revolution will progress and what hope Syria could have of a transition to democracy.
The insight that Yazbek offers into the complex and bloody conflict is incredibly valuable, and the passion with which she speaks and writes about the revolution is an inspiration to all those who witness it. A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution is available to buy in all good bookshops and at Haus Publishing
by Zoe Rutherford