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Book review: the Women testify to the irrepressible Samar Yazbek

I was floored by Samar Yazbeks testimony from the war in Syria, ”Journey into nothingness”, when it came out in English in 2015. Few have depicted the war's everyday lives as closely and relentlessly. Most of the time I had read about the war – and there was quite a lot – förbleknade by comparison.

it's Not that the book in no way was perfect. How would a depiction of a terrible and ongoing war to be able to be there? But rather because Yazbek put himself at stake in the war's landscape. The book was wide open, full of repetition and retakes, with strong känslokast and ice cold vardagspoesi. It felt as if all the tossing – and could end on the next page.

But grief was absolutely forbidden. Most importantly, wrote Yazbek, was to keep together. Do not become another burden.

it was a poet who had written ”enter the void”. A syrians in exile who returned secretly from Paris to depict the lives of those who were left. All those who are still fighting against the dictatorship in Damascus – and those who just tried to survive under the worst possible circumstances.

Nevertheless, it was all past. The book was based on trips from 2013 and the popular revolution had already been kidnapped by the religious warriors and foreign interests. Which made it much easier for envåldshärskaren Bashar al-Assad to manipulate public opinion and to spread mendacious propaganda. All to divide and conquer further. Nevertheless, he has far more deaths on his conscience than the Islamic state.

Samar Yazbek was the most in Idlibprovinsen in the northwest, in the countryside between Aleppo and Homs, which was dominated by the Free syrian army. Now when the ICE-strongholds in the east falls, it is the last major part of Syria, which has not been withdrawn. The expanse of the war is effectively over.

Janine di Giovanni wrote after an interview with the guardian case in december 2016 that the war in Syria is the most cynical conflict she witnessed. And still she has traveled on the world's front lines in the last 25 years.

In ”the Morning they came to pick us up” (2016) she described the widespread torture and the regime's sexual violence against women. At the side of Samar Yazbeks book the most insightful and brutally true, I read about the war.

Also Yazbek tells in his new book ”Nineteen women” if the syrian women's victimization and resistance during the worst war years. She has interviewed those who were forced to flee and live in other countries, most educated women from the middle class, those who were young students, teachers, or journalists when the revolt took off in earnest in 2011. Almost all of the families who could afford to pay the bribes to get them out of the prisons. If truth is war's first victim, the poor are the most invisible and unheard.

documentation, impossible not to be affected by, but that reading is not as describes literary as ”enter the void”. Yazbek listen and let the women tell you themselves. Many stories are remarkably similar, although each individual experience is of course unique. There could – and should – Yazbek have pushed the language of individuation and concrete detail longer and harder.

Perhaps it is too early? And not everyone can write a ”War has no female face”.

You get a strong sense of how extremely brutal the butcher Bashar al-Assad's regime fought back against the popular protests. How even women who really were not particularly politically active and hardly supported the armed opposition was accused of being terrorists. Humanitarian work – or just a helping hand to a neighbor in trouble – could be enough to get beaten and arrested.

the Shock that a lot of people lost faith in the regime forever. Even those with jobs in the state bureaucracy who were ordered out on the streets during working hours in order to pay tribute to the president and the laugh freedom.

the impression of how quickly the religious warriors hijacked the revolution from the syrian people who started it. For the women it was a double blow, even if they are barely – there, many witnesses testify – was especially valued among the secular fighters who wanted to manage the politics and the resistance themselves.

With the jihadi Nusrafronten and dödssekten the Islamic state's arrival, it was literally dangerous to move obeslöjad outdoors. Or that the teacher Mona from Raqqa who now lives in Turkey says: ”We rebelled to gain freedom but was thrown hundreds of years back in time”.

Read more: Maria Schottenius read the novel ”She who walks”

Read more: Jan Eklund read called ”the Morning they came to fetch us.”

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