cover image The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria

The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria

Alia Malek. Nation Books, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-56858-532-1

Malek’s (A Country Called Amreeka) multigenerational memoir is a brilliant combination of geopolitics and family history. In an accessible way to general readers, she chronicles the complex and devastating history of Syria, from the Ottoman Empire’s rule and the shift to French colonization to the country’s independence and the rise of the Assad regime. Malek begins with her great grandfather’s success as a businessman in the early stages of Syria’s independence in the 1940s and continues through Bashar Al-Assad’s authoritarian regime and Malek’s migration from her family’s reclaimed home in Damascus, eloquently exploring grief, resilience, and loss. She is a deft reporter and storyteller. She offers first-hand accounts and her astute political analysis as she traverses countries including Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, France, and Syria. At the core of this book are the chilling effects the regime of the Assad family—beginning with Hafez (Bashar’s father)—have on the Syrian people: sectarian rifts, disappeared citizens, extreme censorship, a bloated refugee crisis, and countless deaths in a nonstop war with humanitarian aid cut off. Malek courageously tells the stories of unforgettable family members and friends, including underground humanitarian aid workers who continue despite the risk of torture and execution. (Feb.)