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Anti-Assad Syrian Author wins PEN Pinter award in Britain

Samar Yezbek, an exiled Syrian author who fled the country during the uprising against president Bashar al-Assad, wins PEN Pinter award for her book A Woman in the Crossfire

Ahram Online, Tuesday 9 Oct 2012
Samar Yezbek
Samar Yezbek receives Pinter award for her book, A Woman in the Crossfire
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Syrian writer Samar Yezbek, whose outspoken views against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad forced her to leave the country last year, has won the literary Pen Pinter prize for her courage.

She will share the award with British poet Carol Ann Duffy, who named her as the international writer of courage.

"I have chosen Samar because of her literary skill ... and her bravery in writing about her opposition to the bloody Assad regime when she is already such a prominent figure in Syria and so at increased risk," Duffy was quoted as saying by the English Pen website.

Yezbek's book, A Woman in the Crossfire, is based on her diaries of the first days of the Syrian uprising that erupted in March 2011. Yezbek, who belongs to the same Alawite clan as al-Assad, was chased by the president's loyalists for taking part in the revolt

She fled to Paris in July 2011 and wrote her diaries that were quickly translated into various languages, including German and English.

"Many of the people who provided the raw material for my book are now martyrs," she commented.

"This honour is dedicated to the martyrs and to all those women who are working in silence, in particularly difficult circumstances inside Syria, and to those who move among the downpour of bullets and artillery fire, the tanks and the fighter jets, in order to carry on the revolution of the Syrian people toward establishing a free and democratic society."

The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009  in memory of the Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter. The Prize is awarded annually to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world, and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

The prize is shared with an international writer of courage selected by English PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee in association with the winner. This half of the prize is awarded to someone who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

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