Syria Speaks: an evening of resistance and celebration at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

This article is from 2014

Syria Speaks: an evening of resistance and celebration at the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Photo: Pablo Monteagudo

Syrian voices at Jura Unbound including Samar Yazbek and Golan Haji, with music from the Raast Collective

‘Uprising literature’ is the term being used to encompass works which have followed on from the revolt and subsequent civil war in Syria, and this special late-night event will showcase many of its exponents, all of whom are featured in Saqi Books’ anthology Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline.

‘The book is an excellent introduction to the situation in Syria,’ says co-curator Dan Gorman of Reel Festivals, ‘providing space for Syrian voices, something we see little of in mainstream media. The artistic community in Syria operated under extremely tight restrictions prior to 2011, and the revolution brought with it freedom of expression. This is a challenging time, but many Syrian artists pay homage to this with very critical work and discussion taking place on a daily basis.’

The range of writers appearing will be wide. ‘Samar Yazbek’s Pinter Prize-winning war diaries provide a stomach churning account of the first hundred days of the conflict,’ details co-curator Ryan Van Winkle. ‘Golan Haji will also be joining us. He's an acclaimed poet who worked as a doctor in the early days of the uprising. Syrian/Scottish novelist Robin Yassin-Kassab will discuss his forthcoming novel on the revolution and, on a lighter note, Malu Halasa will share excerpts from her book The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie.’

The Raast collective will also be playing traditional Syrian music. ‘We hope this event won’t just be about tragedy but will highlight the resilience, humour and strength of Syrian art, even in these most challenging times,’ says Van Winkle. ‘There’s no uniform style of “uprising literature”. All those presenting work have reacted and responded to events in different ways, and whilst there are huge amounts of suffering taking place in Syria right now, the people and families experiencing this are expressing themselves in various ways. We hope this will be a celebration of people.’

Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 12 Aug, 9pm, free.

Jura Unbound

A playful, powerful literary experience to launch our special Spoken Word programme, Babble On. This year's line-up includes Stanley Odd, Nasty Little Press, the Bookshop Band and more.