Country: Syria, France

Year of Birth: 1970


Born in 1970 in Jable, Syria, Samar Yazbek studied literature before beginning her career as a journalist and a script writer for Syrian television and cinema. She currently lives in Paris.
Yazbek was an active participant in “Women Initiative Organization”, dedicated to the defense of women’s and children’s rights. She was involved in “Liberties”, a center which defends the freedom of speech for journalists in Syria. She also was the editor of “Women of Syria”, an electronic magazine and free observatory that focuses on women, children and community in Syria. Such issues are at the heart of her literary work, and for this reason her books have been controversial and severely criticized by the regime.

In 2011 Samar Yazbek was the first to publish an account of the Syrian uprising’s first four months, In the crossfire: A diary of the Syrian revolution, where she carefully documented the protests and the repression, recorded valuable testimonies, and described her personal despair. In 2012, The book was awarded the PEN Pinter award in the UK and the Pen Tucholsky prize in Sweden. In 2013, the book was awarded the PEN Oxfam Novib prize in the Netherlands. The crossing won the “Best foreign book” award in France, and was shortlisted for the Medicis. The blue pen was on the third and final selection of the French Femina award.

The blue pen is on the longlist of the National Book Award 2021.


The wind’s abode | Maqam al rih 2021
19 women: Tales of resilience from Syria | 19 imra’a: Souriyyat yarwayn 2018
The blue pen | Al macha’a 2017
The crossing | Buwabat ard al aadam 2015
In the crossfire | Taqatoo niran 2012
In her mirrors | Laha maraya 2010
Cinnamon | Ra’ihat al-Qirfa 2008
Clay | Silsal 2005


In the press

“The winds’ abode”

“Samar Yazbek’s writing evokes Gionoher best novel to date” — Le Monde des Livres

“Through this poetic story told in a remarkable lyrical form, the author provides us with a powerful portrayal of the soul of her fragmented country” — Les Echos

“Samar Yazbek successfully transports Syrian reality, with all its horrors, and in all its splendor, into the living room… The poetic, visual sentences turn this story into a true-to-life film.” — Kif Kif

“In The Winds’ Abode, Samar Yazbek’s writing is exquisitely painful.” — L’Orient Littéraire

“This is the tale of man coalescing with nature, of man as the offspring of nature… Yazbek brings his story to life in a very unique style ” — Al Quds al-Arabi

“Samar Yazbek has written an elegantly wrapped and powerful novel, with a fluid and subtle language, a slow pace and a translucent beauty” — Independant Arabia

“The blue pen”

“The young, mute narrator of this compassionate novel by the author of The Crossing becomes a poignant emblem of the Syrian women confined by war. ” — The Guardian, 2021

“Words can build a better world and repel ugliness” — L’Express, 2018

The “Grace” of Yazbek — Le Monde, 2018

“Did Samar Yazbek write our most important novel?” — Forlagsliv, 2018

“Powerful” “Poignant”Livres Hebdo, 2018

Yazbek’s Blue Pen “crafts an original voice” “foreign and innovative imagery” — Dagbladet, 2018

“Ingenious character, and a literary approach on the verge of the unimaginable” – GP, Sweden, 2018

“The crossing”

Formidable narrative” — Le Monde, 2016

“Comparable to Orwell” — Le Nouvel Observateur, 2016

“Colossal”Libération, 2016

“Remarkable”Le Figaro, 2016

“Indispensable”Adfonbladet, 2015

“Yazbek is comparable to Svetlana Alexievich” — SVT, 2015

Schocking, searing and beautiful” — The Daily Beast, 2015

Powerful and deeply painful” — The Times Literary Supplement, 2015

“Crosses the line from journalism to high literary art” — The observer, 2015


The wind’s abode (2021)

Stock (2022, France)
Ordfront (2023, Sweden)
Orlando (2023, The Netherlands)
World Editions BV, English (The Netherlands, forthcoming)
Union Verlag (Germany, forthcoming)
Green Books (Mayalam / India, forthcoming)

19 women: Tales of resilience from Syria (2018)

Stock (2019, France)
Ordfront (2019, Sweden)
Sellerio (2019, Italy)
Nika-Centre Publishing House (2021, Ukraine)

The blue pen (2018)

Kristelight Dagblads (2017, Denmark)
Stock (2018, France)
Ordfront (2018, Sweden)
Cappelen Damm (2018, Norway)
Orlando (2019, Netherlands)
Pandora Publishing (2020, Romania)
World Editions BV (2021, Netherlands)
Green Books (2021, Malayalam / India)
Hakusui-Sha (Japan, forthcoming)
Unionsverlag (Germany, forthcoming)
Sonia Draga (Poland, forthcoming)
Ketebe (Turkey, forthcoming)

The crossing (2015) 

Rider Books, Ebury, Penguin Random House (2015, UK)
Nagel & Kimche, Hanser (2015, Germany)
Ordfront (2015, Sweden)
Cappelen Damm (2015, Norway)
Stella Maris (2016, Spain)
Stock (2016, France)
Euthalia (2016, Portugal)
Karakter (2016, Poland)
Kastaniotis (2016, Greece)
Kristeligt Dagblads (2016, Denmark)
Ethir Veliyedu (2016, Tamil / India)
Walkers (2017, Complex Chinese, Taiwan)
Sellerio (2017, Italy)
Shanghai Translation Pub. House (2018, Simplified Chinese, China)
Prozart (2018, Macedonia)
Green books (2019, Malayalam / India)
Hakusui-Sha (2020, Japan)
Pandora (Romania, forthcoming)

In the crossfire (2012)

Buchet-Chastel (2012, France)
Haus (2012, UK)
Nagel & Kimche, Hanser (2012, Germany)
Nigh & Ditmar (2013, Netherlands)
Timas (2013, Turkey)

In her mirrors (2010)

Castelvecchi (2011, Italy)

Cinnamon (2008) 

Castelvecchi (2010, Italy)
Arabia books, Haus (2013, UK)
Buchet-Chastel (2013, France)
Ordfront (2013, Sweden)
Cappelen Damm (2013, Norway)
Nagel & Kimche, Hanser (2014, Germany)

[Updated August 2023]