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Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution: Voices from Tunis to Damascusby Layla (edt) Al-zubaidi
Synopses & Reviews
An English PEN Awardwinning collection of personal testimony from participants in the Arab Spring
As revolution swept through the Arab world in spring of 2011, much of the writing that reached the West came via analysts and academics, experts and expats. We heard about Facebook posts and tweeted calls to action, but what was missing was testimony from on-the-ground participants—which is precisely what Layla Al-Zubaidi and Matthew Cassel have brought together in Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution. These essays and profoundly moving, often harrowing, firsthand accounts span the region from Tunisia to Syria and include contributors ranging from student activists to seasoned journalists—half of whom are women. This unique collection explores just how deeply politics can be held within the personal and highlights the power of writing in a time of revolution.
"With both poetic flourish and eyewitness intensity, the events of the Arab Spring are rendered newly relevant and visceral in this anthology of first-person accounts from Tunisia to Syria. In this haunting collection, editors Cassel, Al-Zubaidi, and Roderick present breathtakingly beautiful writing by young people who witnessed the remarkable events of 2011, and manage to accomplish what the media did not: provide context and meaning to a movement that confounded existing narratives of the Middle East. For example, Malek Sghiri and Yasmine El Rashidi capture the hopeless gloom of Tunis and Cairo under their respective regimes in successive chapters.Passionately vibrant accounts detail the fear, hurt, and frustration of people who have spent generations struggling to keep the spark of humanity alive in despairing conditions, and who, in moments of almost inconceivable bravery, put their lives at risk to change the world. 'Tell them we won't make excuses for living,' a young protestor tells Algerian journalist Ghannia Mouffok, whose incandescent essay 'We are Not Swallows' captures the Algerian struggle; with these words, even in the face of Syria's nightmare, and ongoing unrest in Egypt, the Arab Spring comes sharply into focus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution: Voices from Tunis to Damascus
"There is an undeniable power to the presence of time and movement in these accounts."
—New York Times Book Review
“With both poetic flourish and eyewitness intensity, the events of the Arab Spring are rendered newly relevant and visceral in this anthology of first-person accounts from Tunisia to Syria. In this haunting collection, editors Cassel, Al-Zubaidi, and Roderick present breathtakingly beautiful writing by young people who witnessed the remarkable events of 2011, and manage to accomplish what the media did not: provide context and meaning to a movement that confounded existing narratives of the Middle East.”
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“For readers interested in the personal, firsthand stories of the young men and women who stood and fought in those chaotic city squares throughout the Middle East, the English PEN Award-winning Diaries adds a vastly different, historically vital perspective on the Arab Springs revolutions-in-progress…these eye-opening, untold accounts from students and local journalists alike are as essential to the historical record as they are to the outsider looking to understand what the Arab Spring is really about.”
—Booklist Starred Review
"Captures [the Arab Spring's] courage on page after page...consistently vivid and far more personal than most journalism."
--The Dallas Morning News
“Intimate vignettes…this adds an emotional, personal layer to the myriad voices.”
"The writing is accessible — in addition to being lyrical, melancholy, and spirited."
"[Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution] is not the revolution itself, but its continuation with literary means. As people in the Arab world recaptured the public sphere, this book opens a literary space, in which the actors and authors of the revolutions can meet and express free of fear. It is a book that nobody can avoid if he wants to understand what is happening in the Arab world."—Diesseits
“What this anthology makes abundantly clear is that the young people behind these uprisings, though often optimistic, were not blinded by the fervour of revolution but were in fact acutely aware of the obstacles that lay ahead.”
—London School of Economics Review of Books
"If ever there is a book that should be championed, it is [Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution]. . . . Among the most moving, inspiring, and revealing pieces of non-fiction we've come across in some time."
—The National (U.A.E.)
"[Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution] provides a terrifying insight into the world of authoritarian regimes where freedom and democracy are alien concepts. Each of the eight accounts in this impressive anthology is accessible and illuminating."
—The Independent (U.K.)
"These stories of the Arab Spring are the brave first draft of history, written by its participants even as they were blinded by tear gas, arrested, running from the gunshots. Their voices are honest and compelling, by turns angry, afraid, frustrated, confused, embattled and hopeful. Amidst all the punditry and wittering commentators, here is the real feel of what it means to stand up for freedom and to risk everything in doing so."
—Wendell Steavenson, correspondent for the The New Yorker and author of The Weight of a Mustard Seed
"The ongoing Arab revolts debunked Orientalist myths about the region and disoriented the "experts". The voices of the generation spearheading these revolts are at times drowned out by the cacophony and confusion of old and new experts issuing pre-mature obituaries. This book gives space to those men and women writing of and for monumental change and demanding attention."
—Sinan Antoon, author of I'jaam - an Iraqi Rhapsody and co-director About Baghdad
From the editors' preface
"The dominant voices discussing the uprisings in most English-language media came from an elite group of professional 'experts,' often commenting far from the battles taking place in the streets. This book aims to correct that. The contributors to this anthology did not sit on the sidelines while things happened. Each of them played a role in shaping their country's future and documenting uncomfortable truths long before the wave of mass uprisings began, and they continue to do so, even when events fall out of the headlines. [ . . . ] Our aim, as editors, was to put the narrative of 'the Arab Spring' back into the hands of the people without whom there would be no story to tell."
An eye-opening look at how young Arab- and Muslim- Americans are forging lives for themselves in a country that often mistakes them for the enemy
Just over a century ago , W.E.B. Du Bois posed a probing question in his classic The Souls of Black Folk: How does it feel to be a problem? Now, Moustafa Bayoumi asks the same about America's new "problem"-Arab- and Muslim-Americans. Bayoumi takes readers into the lives of seven twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn, home to the largest Arab-American population in the United States. He moves beyond stereotypes and clichés to reveal their often unseen struggles, from being subjected to government surveillance to the indignities of workplace discrimination. Through it all, these young men and women persevere through triumphs and setbacks as they help weave the tapestry of a new society that is, at its heart, purely American.
About the Author
Moustafa Bayoumi was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and raised in Canada. He earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York. He is coeditor of The Edward Said Reader, and his essays have appeared in The Best Music Writing 2006, The Nation, The London Review of Books, The Village Voice, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Table of Contents
How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? Preface
What Our Readers Are Saying
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History and Social Science » Middle East » General History