Hanna Mina

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Hanna Mina
حنا مينة
Born(1924-03-09)9 March 1924
Died21 August 2018(2018-08-21) (aged 94)
Damascus, Syria
Literary movementSocial Realism

Hanna Mina (Arabic: حنا مينة‎) (9 March 1924 – 21 August 2018) was a Syrian novelist, described in Literature from the "Axis of Evil" as the country's "most prominent".[1]

His early novels belong to the movement of social realism, and focus on class conflict; his later works contain "a more symbolic analysis of class differences".[1] His writing on the suffering of ordinary people was partly inspired by his own experiences, alternately working as a stevedore, barber and journalist; his autobiographical short story, "On the Sacks", was published in 1976.[1]

Several of his works are set during the period of the French Mandate of Syria, or in the period immediately following independence.[1]

Mina has authored about 40 novels, varying in imaginary value and narrative significance. But his achievement lies in the foundation he laid for this literary structure. For his collective works and novels, Mina was awarded the Arab Writer's Prize in 2005.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Latakia in 1924,[2] Hanna Mina spent his childhood in one of the villages near Iskenderun, but following the entrance of the Turkish forces to the district (Hatay State), he moved back to Latakia with his family.[3] Although with only an elementary school certificate, Mina used to write letters and petitions to the government on behalf of illiterates, and distributed the Communist Sawt al-Shaab (Voice of the People) newspaper alongside working as a barber.[2]


In 1947, he moved to Beirut in search for a job, later moving to Damascus where he began his literary career.

In the 1950s, Mina joined the Damascus newspaper al-Inshaa as a trainee editor. He was paid a monthly salary of a mere 100 Syrian pounds and lived in relative poverty.[2]

He wrote several short stories, which brought him into literary circles, and he co-founded the Syrian Writers Federation in 1951 and later moved to become the editor in-chief of al-Inshaa.[3] His first novel was 1954's The Blue Lanterns.[3] Although slowly gaining fame and prestige and becoming of Syria's renowned writers, he never stopped reflecting on the harsh reality of his earlier life, which he considered as fuel for his novels.[2] He has said that "reality carves its inscriptions on human skin with a hot iron that leaves permanent marks and scars".

His novel, The Swamp, which invoked fragments of Mina's childhood in Iskenderun, was described by literary critic Salah Fadl as “the greatest autobiography in Arab novel-writing, and the most abundant in brutal honesty and wealth of thought."[2]


Mina died on 21 August 2018 in Damascus, aged 94.[4][5]


In Syria, the culture ministry each year awards the Hanna Mina Prize for Literature.


  1. ^ a b c d e Words Without Borders, Literature from the "Axis of Evil", ISBN 978-1-59558-205-8, 2006, pp.55-6: brief biography
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hanna Mina: Syria's Old Man of the Sea". Al Akhbar. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Hanna Mina". Syria Times. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. ^ "أوصى بأن لا يبكيه أحد.. وفاة الروائي السوري حنا مينه". Al Arabiya (in Arabic). 21 August 2018.
  5. ^ Al-awsat, Asharq. "Renowned Syrian Novelist Hanna Mina Dies at 94". aawsat.com. Retrieved 2018-08-21.