SAMAR YAZBEK was born in Jableh in 1970. She studied literature before beginning her career as a journalist and a scriptwriter for Syrian television and film. A highly regarded writer in Syria, her novels in Arabic include Child of Heaven (2002), Clay (2005), Cinnamon (2008) and In Her Mirrors (2010). In 2010 she was selected as one of the Beirut39; a prestigious group comprising the 39 most promising writers of the Arab World, under the age of 39. But Samar Yazbek has also achieved wider international acclaim for her book: A Woman in the Crossfire. This work is a compelling personal account of her participation in the Syrian revolution; it details the first months of the uprisings, and the regime's brutal response to the early protests. It was for this work that she won the 2012 PEN Pinter Prize, being named by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, with whom she shared the prize, as a writer of outstanding courage. She also won the 2012 Swedish Tucholsky Prize: awarded to writers who have made exceptional efforts to promote freedom of speech. Previous winners of the award include Salman Rushdie, Bei Dao and Nuruddin Farah. Her documentation of the uprisings led to persecutions against her in Syria and ultimately she was forced to flee. She currently lives in hiding.
'[Her novel] is a defiant and resonating cry. Ground-breaking...it merits our attention and concern.'