Art and Culture from the Frontline
Edited by Malu Halasa, Nawara Mahfoud, Zaher Omareen
About the Book
In Syria, culture has become a critical line of defence against tyranny.
Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. It showcases the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters and photographs document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria.
Moving and inspiring, Syria Speaks is testament to the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people.
Cover image: Poster by Alshaab alsori aref tarekh showing a character by Mohamed Tayeb. Zaytoun, the Little Refugee, from the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus, is a political, artistic and educational project, which contests the monopoly of power to write history.
About the Contributors
Malu Halasa is editor at large for Portal 9: Stories and Critical Writing about the City, a new journal from Beirut. She is co-author of Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design, Creating Spaces of Freedom: Culture in Defiance and series editor for the Transit anthologies, including Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations and Transit Beirut. Her exhibitions include ‘Culture in Defiance’, on the art of the Syrian uprising for the Prince Claus Fund Gallery; and Art and Documentary from Iran for the Atrium Gallery, LSE.
Nawara Mahfoud is a Syrian journalist and documentary producer who has worked for the New York Times. She blogs for the New Yorker, among other publications.
Zaher Omareen is a Syrian writer, who has worked on independent cultural initiatives in Syria and Britain. He is currently completing Tales of the Orontes River, a collection of short stories.
'A remarkable achievement and a remarkable book – a wise, courageous, imaginative and beautiful response to all that is ugly in human behaviour. This extraordinary anthology gives a voice to those we may have forgotten, or whom we may classify as simply passive and silent victims. The people shown living, dreaming and speaking here are far more than victims and only silent if we refuse to hear them.’ A. L. Kennedy
‘An extraordinary collection, revealing a dynamic and exciting culture in painful transition – a culture where artists are really making a difference ... You need to read this book.’ Brian Eno
‘The impact [the images] have on the page makes one imagine how much the originals unsettled the Syrian government … Syria Speaks tells us with inspirational force how the Syrians have found the ability to speak out’ Times Literary Supplement
‘An invaluable and deeply moving testimony to resistance ... this work clamours for liberty and turns its back not only on tyranny but on religious division' Independent
‘Essential reading for anyone interested in human rights or a better understanding of the current conflict … Syria Speaks pays tribute to many extraordinary acts of courage and shines a light on the dark deeds of a brutal regime.’ Independent on Sunday
‘For an introduction to the ideas and culture of the original Syrian protesters, one can scarcely do better than Syria Speaks' New York Review of Books
Syria Speaks has been supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development; CKU, the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, English PEN Promotes!; Arts Council England, the Arab British Centre and Reel Festivals