Samar Yazbek: Escapism for Survival

The TV news reports from war-torn countries such as Syria offer a picture of suffering amid the debris and devastation, with women and children often reduced to the role of ‘victims’. Can we reach a more complex understanding of how non-combatants caught up in such conflicts find ways to continue their lives? Leading Syrian author Samar Yazbek joins us live from France to discuss the vital role of the imagination in the struggle for survival. Yazbek spoke about the challenges of life in Syria at the Book Festival in 2012; since then, her home country has continued to endure a devastating conflict. Her latest novel, Planet of Clay, tells the story of Rima, a young girl living in Damascus while the city is being bombed. Rima finds refuge in an imaginary world of fantasy, until one day her mother is shot dead by military gunfire while they are travelling together through the city. The injured girl is taken to recover in the besieged Ghouta neighbourhood and there, she writes her story. Join Yazbek as she speaks to academic and activist Esa Aldegheri about her work.

This event was filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival. All participants took part remotely.

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