Leave a comment

How women are collaborating to tell stories that break through the noise on Syria

Between the news coverage, reportage and statistics around the ongoing Syrian civil war and the battle against Islamic State the firsthand experiences of ordinary civilians on the frontlines are difficult to source and expose. Yet these are often the very stories that can often provide crucial wartime evidence, chronicle social and historic shifts, or unearth true narratives that can counter official ones. And these stories are increasingly found on our bookshelves rather than on the newsstands.

From testimonies to short stories, graphic novels to memoirs, female writers, journalists and survivors are currently fronting the literatures of war, conflict and exile. The past two years have seen a surge of books and memoirs authored by women that capture the far-reaching human consequences of the Syrian civil war. Amid the fatigued reportage on its increasingly more complex escalations – and the cynical moves of other nations vested in opposing outcomes – these are compelling testaments to what befalls ordinary people as a consequence of fanaticism and powerful interests.

A remarkable example is Farida Khalaf’s 2016 memoir The Girl Who Beat ISIS. Khalaf and her family are Yazidis, members of a Kurdish-speaking minority who follow an ancient, pre-Islamic faith. The book recounts how Islamic State crossed the border into their mountainside village in northern Iraq, killing the men, recruiting the boys, and taking women and girls to slave markets in Raqqa.

Through testimonies of those such as Khalaf, the genocide against the Yazidis was officially recognised by the UN. Khalaf, in collaboration with German journalist Andrea C. Hoffmann, shaped their series of detailed interviews into a first-person narrative. Despite the indiscriminate violence visited on whole communities and towns, her memoir reminds that what women have suffered at the hands of IS, and what they continue to endure in refugee camps, is further devastating still.

Read More

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Angoulême focus on Arab comics

In France, a new exhibition on Arab comics launches at the Angoulême Comics Festival.

France’s 46th Angoulême International Comics Festival, which closed last week, included a special focus on Arab comics, according to Olivia SnaijeBookwitty‘s English-language editorial manager in Paris and Publishing Perspectives contributor.

As Snaije writes at Bookwitty, traditions of cartooning in the Arab world can be traced to the 19th century. In the modern era, “The lead-up to the Arab Spring and its subsequent failings has galvanized the comics scene, also giving rise to women cartoonists such as Nadia Khiari, known as Willis from Tunis, and many others, in what was a traditionally male-dominated area.”

An exhibition, The New Generation: Arab Comics Today, opened with the festival and is scheduled to be on view until November 4 at Angoulême’s Museum of Comics on Quay Charente.

The official catalogue of the exhibition was published Friday (February 2) by Alifbata, and is available now with its text in both French and English. The volume features more than 40 of the artist-authors from the exhibition, as well as three critical essays that contextualize the frequently challenged place the comics sector has held in the Maghreb and Levant.

Read More