Since 2011 there have been tons of books written about Syria – some brilliant, others so so, and even more that are terrible.
To help you sift through it all, i’m compiling a series of reading lists consisting of my top reads - this one is focused on Personal experiences, testimonies and memoirs. Check it out and share any suggestions you have!
Note: My recommendations are based solely on my own reads, preferences and perspectives. Any purchases you make through our links may earn Syrian Memories a small commission which helps sustain this initiative.
We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman
A powerful collection of first-person testimonies, synthesized from interviewing hundreds of Syrians that illustrates life living under dictatorship, the euphoria of rebellion, fear and trauma of flight and reflections of dreams delayed.
The Book Collectors of Daraya: A Band of Syrian Rebels, Their Underground Library, and the Stories that Carried Them Through a War by Delphine Minoui
Another powerful exploration into life in Daraya under siege. Centered around the hidden library and the stories of the young men who built it in the face of unspeakable brutality. A reminder of how much everyday Syrians have struggled and persevered in spite of everything thrown at them.
Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud
A collection of works from 2011-2013 of over 50 Syrian artists and writers, this book is snapshot of creative resistance that exploded after 2011, but yet sadly represents a time superseded by the trauma of a fractured and decimated nation. Includes works from Samar Yazbek, Hassan Abbass, Robin Yassin-Kassab, Ali Ferzat, and many more brilliant Syrians.
My House in Damascus- An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis by Diana Darke
Part memoir, part real estate restoration odyssey, this work does a wonderful job of catapulting you into the intricacies (and often ludicrous realities) of living, purchasing and restoring a Damascene home in the old city, all against the backdrop of a nation falling apart.
No Knives in the Kitchens of This City: A Novel by Khaled Khalifa
This novel follows characters from a Halabi family and how they evolve under authoritarianism over the course of a few decades, weaving in key themes of shame, rage, grief and the search for meaning within lives filled with oppressed desires.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Novel by Christy Lefteri
This powerful novel so vividly captures the raw reality of being a refugee, overcoming grief and the extraordinary challenges to get to safety and reconnect with loved ones. Utterly haunting and hits close to home on multiple levels.
City of Jasmine by Olga Grjasnowa
A heartbreaking novel that follows the story of three Syrians – a doctor, an actor and director – who have to uproot their lives and find a way to survive by escaping to Europe. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised by the author's depth and well-researched details representing experiences too many have been facing.
I’ll add to this list as I read more - If you have any recommendations, please share in the comments!
Great suggestion Amalia – haven’t read it yet, but i’ll add it to the my wishlist!
Please add The Last Sanctuary of Aleppo – Mohammad Alaa Al’Jaleel on your list.
And if you want to help and know more (and help) about what he his still doing with his sanctuary and shelter for animals in NW Syria you can visit his FB page “Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel”