Samar Yazbek

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Samar Yazbek (Arabic: سمر يزبك) is a Syrian writer and journalist.[1] She was born in Jableh in 1970, and studied Arabic literature at university. She has written in a wide variety of genres - novels, short stories, film scripts, television dramas, film and TV criticism. She has made a documentary about the Syrian scholar Anton Maqdesi. In the past, she has edited Women of Syria, a feminist e-zine.

Yazbek has been a prominent voice in support of human rights and women's rights in Syria. Her debut novel, called Tiflat as-Sama (Heavenly Girl), challenged existing taboos in Syrian society.[2] She is a member of the minority Alawi community, but is an opponent of the government of her co-religionist President Bashar al-Assad. She took part in the 2011 protests against the Assad government,[3] and subsequently was detained by security forces[4] and also banned from travelling outside Syria.[5]

In 2010, Yazbek was selected as one of the Beirut39, a group of 39 Arab writers under the age of 40 chosen through a contest organised by Banipal magazine and the Hay Festival. In 2012, she was chosen for the prestigious PEN/Pinter Prize "International writer of courage", in recognition of her book A Woman in the Crossfire.[6] She was awarded the Swedish Tucholsky Prize in the same year. In 2013, she received the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award to recognize writers who have been persecuted for their work.[7]

She participated in the Syrian cultural caravan (2014–5).


  • The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria (2015)[8]
  • A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution (2012 English)
  • Cinnamon (2012 English)
  • Salsal (2008)
  • Tiflat as-Sama (Heavenly Girl)