The fractured country of Syria is once again front-page news, making this a moment to attend to the collection. Here are five essential titles to help readers understand past and current events in the war-torn region.
- A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming (Flatiron: Macmillan).
The tragedy and crisis in Syria are not isolated to its borders; they spill out across the globe as Syrian refugees seek safety in other countries. Fleming’s account captures the journey of one such seeker, 19-year-old Doaa Al Zamel, whose story shows astounding courage and tenacity.
- The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine di Giovanni (Liveright: Norton).
This critically acclaimed account of the Syrian conflict is a key title for all collections. Written by an admired and experienced reporter, it provides an intimate take on the impact of war on citizens who cannot escape.
- The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria by Alia Malek (Nation).
Malek was born in the United States to Syrian refugees. In her powerful memoir, vivid with revelatory insights, she relates a broad history of her own family and the experiences of many others who have suffered under the long-standing Assad regime.
- The Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria by Marlene Matar (Interlink).
While a cookbook might seem an odd inclusion to a list that essentially counts what is lost to war, a country’s heritage and deep culinary traditions are key to its remaining whole. This much-admired work celebrates the richness of Syrian cuisine, providing an essential reminder of the country’s history and the culture that is ultimately being decimated.
- The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria by Samar Yazbek; tr. from Arabic by Nashwa Gowanlock & Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Ebury).
Syrian journalist Yazbek offers both a personal and historical document of what has happened and what is happening in her country. She seeks to explain Syria’s complicated politics and the cost with regard to human life.