Breaking News

10 Syrian Writers You Should Know About

 Syria’s literary tradition is just part of the rich and beautiful cultural heritage of a country which has faced many difficulties and hardships. Here we profile ten of Syria’s most prolific and influential writers, who have made a name for themselves both nationally and internationally.

Nizar Qabbani

One of the Arab world’s most beloved and respected poets, Nizar Qabbani has been writing and publishing poetry since his teenage years. Largely romantic by nature, his poetry nevertheless confronts deep and serious social issues, combining a beauty and simplicity of style with an investigation into Arab culture and nationalism, and the position of women in society, making Qabbani one of Syria’s most prominent progressive feminist voices. Sparked by his sister’s suicide at the age of 25 in order to escape an unwanted marriage, Qabbani has ruminated greatly in his poetry on the predicament of women in a patriarchal culture, their relationship to men, and the concept and understanding of love between the sexes in contemporary society.

Ali Ahmad Said Esber (Adonis)

Ali Ahmad Said Esber, known by his pen name Adonis, is arguably one of the Arab world’s most prominent poets, and has been regularly nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1988. Adonis’ poetry epitomizes modernity and rebellion, building on the historic tradition of Arabic poetry in order to subvert it; his poetry often deals with themes of transformation, exile and reform, and he rejects classic poetic structure and form in order to experiment with verse, meter and prose poetry. He has been internationally recognized, and was awarded the prestigious Bjørnson Prize in 2007 by the Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression, as well as winning the Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt in 2011.

 

Ghadah Al-Samman

Al- Samman is a Syrian writer, journalist and novelist born in Damascus in 1942 to a prominent and conservative Damascene family, she is remotely related to Nizar Qabbani the famous poet. Her father was Ahmed Al-Samman, president of the Syrian University. She was deeply influenced by him since her mother died at a very young age. Ghada Samman is a prolific writer who has produced over 40 works in a variety of genres, including journalism, poetry, short stories, and the novel. Outspoken, innovative, and provocative, Samman is a highly respected if sometimes controversial writer in the Arab world who is becoming increasingly well known internationally; several of her works have been translated from Arabic into several languages.

 

Hanna Mina

Hanna Mina is often credited as pioneering Syria’s novelistic tradition, famously declaring that ‘in the 21st century, the novel will become for the Arabs what poetry is to them today’. Mina’s novels are outstanding examples of social realism, exploring the hardships and struggles of ordinary citizens living in Syrian society. His works are largely inspired by his own difficult life and his various encounters with poverty, loss and persecution, and portray the conditions of his characters with an unflinching honesty and rawness which makes each of his novels so enduringly powerful. One of his most famous works The Swamp was influenced by his childhood in Iskenderun, and is a vivid exploration of poverty, class conflict, and human resilience.

Saadallah Wannous

Saadallah Wannous is one of Syria’s most famous writers, and one of the most influential playwrights within the Arabic-speaking world. Having studied journalism in Cairo, he later traveled to Paris where he immersed himself in theatre and the stage, and began to write his own works in the 1960s. Wannous’s works revolve around the relationship between the individual and social structures and authorities, using theatre as a platform to engage the audience with striking political questions regarding contemporary Arab society. In this way, his plays are a criticism of and response to government-controlled literature and culture; Wannous seeks not to make the everyday political, but rather to question the political in the everyday.

 

 

Ulfat Idilbi

Born in Damascus in 1912, Ulfat Idilbi is one of Syria’s most successful and beloved authors. Her novels largely revolve around the position of women in society, and the tension between women in their private spheres and the public expectations and pressures put upon them. Her most famous novel Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet (1980) depicts the sufferings of a young Syrian girl at the hands of the French occupation and the social pressures from her own family, and her search for a personal and national identity. The novel was eventually adapted for Syrian television, and has become a classic in Syria’s literary tradition.

 

Colette Khoury

Born to a well-known, affluent family in 1931, Colette Khoury is noted for being one of the first Arabic writers openly to address themes of love and eroticism in her novels and poetry. Due to this, her works have attracted a large amount of controversy for breaking literary and social taboos in Syria’s conservative society. Her works feature strong female protagonists who search for personal identity and sentimental fulfillment, all while navigating society’s strict rules and expectations. Khoury herself is notable for challenging women’s place in society and politics; in 2009, she was made Syria’s first ever ambassador to Lebanon, and has written about a range of political issues in national newspapers and journals.

 

 

Zakaria Tamer (b. 1931)

Tamer is particularly gifted with the Arabic short story and is also one of the pioneer authors of Arabic children’s books. Some of Tamer’s stories were translated by Ibrahim Muhawi and collected in Breaking Knees, published by Garnet in 2008.

 

 

 

Salim Barakat

Born in Qamishli in northern Syria, of Syrian and Kurdish descent, Salim Barakat’s literary works focus on Kurdish culture and heritage and explore its place in the wider Arab world. A prolific writer, Barakat has published dozens of novels, short story collections, and poetry anthologies, and is distinguished from his contemporaries for the innovative use of style and theme within his writing. He has been credited by literary critics for introducing the genre of magical realism to Arabic literature, with works such as The Caves of Hydrahodahose incorporating elements of the fantastic and mythological – including a society of centaurs – in order to reflect on contemporary culture and society.

Maryana Marrash

Maryana Marrash is a key figure in Syria’s literary history. Born in 1848 in Aleppo, she is credited for reviving the tradition of literary salons in Syria, a tradition which had existed long before Europe adopted it in the 16th century. Marrash used her house as a meeting place for intellectuals, writers and politicians to discuss literature, art and music, and their relevance to political and social issues. Marrash also wrote her own poems and articles which she contributed to national newspapers, and was the first Syrian woman to have a poetry collection published. Marrash used her writing to address women’s conditions in society, and to urge women to seek education and emancipation.

 

Edited by: Lama Alhassanieh

National Scientific Competition for Young Creators Held in Lattakia

The Syrian Youths seek developing and enhancing their presence in different domains most notable of which are creativity and invention.

80 participants from ten Syrian governorates presented their scientific projects in the "National Scientific Competition for Young Creators" recently held at the Central Library of Tishreen University in Lattakia province.

The three-day scientific competition, held  by the Revolutionary Youth Union ( RYU), was characterized by distinguished inventions that serve society in case they are carried out.

Two Syrian Students Display Their Smart Stick Invention at SCS's Open-Day in Lattakia

The Lattakia branch of the Syrian Computer Society (SCS) has recently held an open-day at the cultural center in Jableh city in Lattakia province with the aim of spreading the Information Technology (IT) culture in different Syrian areas.

Shedding light on the open-day’s activities the Syriatimes e-newspaper met Head of the Lattakia’s branch of the SCS Eng. Mariam Fayoud, who said that the open-day is part of the SCS’s activities in the city of Lattakia and Al-Haffa area. The goal is to communicate with the families in Jableh and introduce to them activities of the SCS, including the training courses it carries out and the clubs it runs to raise up a knowledge and technology-armed generation that is capable of keeping up with up-to-date IT requirements and attaining advanced positions in international competitions.

Sculptor Mohannad Moua’lla: "The Syrians are Peace Lovers"

"The Syrians are peace lovers. They invest every opportunity to create hope, joy and peace, and because Syria is the cradle of civilizations, arts and sciences, the Syrian artists have managed during the crisis in the country to turn stones and rocks into most wonderful works of art, Syrian sculptor and painter Mohannad Moua’lla said in a statement to the Syriatimes e-newspaper.

Moualla, who is also a soldier in the Syrian Arab army from the Syrian province of Tartous, has developed his skill in sculpturing to serve his homeland.

When artist Moua’lla joined the Syrian Arab Army to defend the homeland, he took up arms with one hand and the chisel of his art with the other. He used to invest his free time to turn the trenches and tunnels of fighting in Jobar in Damascus countryside,  where the terrorists used to hide, into a gallery for works depicting victory, steadfastness and strong will.

17 Young Talents Win Solhi Al-Wadi International Competition

(ST) - The jury of the "Solhi Al Wadi" competition for young talents on the piano announced the names of winners, who were divided into four age groups, during a "solo performance" held by the winners at Dar Al Assad for Culture and Arts.

The selection of the winners has been done under specific criteria such as; how to put their hands on the piano as they are playing the musical composition, their understanding of the musical school of the composer they are playing his music. In addition to the character of the performer and his way to convey the messages and feelings through his play and his accuracy in translating the musical text to a melody on the stage.

During the closing ceremony, the winners performed classical vocal compositions by international authors such as Schubert, Bach, Bertini, Cherty, Hayden, Rachmaninov, Heller, Mozart and Dia Soukari.

Certificates and many awards have been given to the winners and the participants in the ceremony.

 The closing ceremony was preceded by carrying out a professional workshop for the students participating in the competition which is considered a good opportunity for them, especially those coming from the provinces, to introduce them to the international standards of playing the piano in the case that they  participate in this kind of competitions in the future.

On the symbolic revival of this contest on July 7, director and founder of the competition, Dr. Wassem Kotoub said in an interview with the Syria times e-newspaper : "We, and after 7 years, have prepared to revive the competition on the seventh day of the seventh month, as the number 7 indicates the sign of the victory.

After a dialogue with the Ministries of Culture and Tourism and Dar al-Assad for Music and the Directorate of Musical Institutes, we decided to hold this competition for the current year to give hope to the youth that our country, the cradle of art, civilization, heritage and love, is restoring its glory and bright again.

Dr. Kotoub stressed: "The competition witnessed a great participation from various Syrian governorates and cities in addition to the distinguished Arab participation from Iraq and Tunisia. For the members of the committee there was also an international presence represented by Ecuador and Finland.

Dr. Kotoub wished for  those who have not been lucky this year to participate again in the coming year, especially that it will be available for those who are over 18 years to participate in the coming competition , which gives greater opportunities for musical institutes and governorates, Arab and foreign countries to participate in it, pointing out that they are working, as a future strategy, to organize workshops for the winners outside Syria.

"Our future plans also include partnerships with other international competitions, so the winner will be qualified for the final round of the other competition", Dr. Kotoub concluded.

Member of the international jury, Maestro Missak Baghboudarian, expressed happiness and great joy for being a member of this jury that gives him the opportunity to discover many distinctive talents and to touch the firm will of these children to continue, to love,to live and to rebuild the better future. "This proves that the war could not kill the love of life and love of art in them, and that there is a bright future waiting for us, thanks to these children and their sincere desire and love for music.

"I learned a lot from these kids, I love their pure souls.  In spite of the strong competition among them, they were playing and communicating with each other with the utmost love and respect. I wish the children who were not able to win prizes this year to participate in the coming year with a new competitive spirit and a greater determination and desire to achieve excellence," Mr. Baghboudarian affirmed.

Dr. Hamsa Al-Wadi Juris, a member of the jury, said: " I was amazed and pleased to meet all these outstanding talents. These children were able to enchant the audience who sat listening to them with complete silence and admiration.

"I hope that the upcoming competitions will witness more participation at the local, Arab and international levels and that the study of the piano will be easier than it is now," he added.

Talking about their participation in the competition, Maestro, Mohammad Nizar Farhat, said : "We represented Lattakia Governorate in this competition with 6 students and we got two prizes: The first place prize for category A and the first place prize for category B plus the special prize for playing with the National Symphony Orchestra led by Maestro Missak Baghboudrian. It was a great experience for our students to participate for the first time in an international competition".

It is noteworthy that the competition aimed at those under the age of 18, began in 2007 at the level of Syria and in 2008 took an international character. In 2012 the competition was halted due to the terrorist war on Syria. Now in 2019, the competitions were resumed again with qualified Syrian cadres and an international jury that includes Maestro, Missak Baghboudrian from Syria, Hamsa Al-Wadi Juris and Carlos Yoris from Finland, with 45 participants, mostly from the Syrian provinces. The Arab participants were from Tunisia and Iraq.

Interviewed by: Amal Farhat