For an introduction to the ideas and culture of the original Syrian protesters one can scarcely do better than Syria Speaks, an anthology of visual and literary work, most of it from the early days of the uprising.
In Rabih Alameddine’s new novel, An Unnecessary Woman, the narrator is a septuagenarian literary translator in Beirut who has “slipped into art to escape life.”
Rabee Jaber’s novel, The Mehlis Report, published in Arabic in 2005 and now expertly translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, takes place in the summer and fall following Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination. The novel evokes this unsettled period with frightening precision. It reads like a historical novel that happens to be about the very recent past.