Alia Malek weaves a lyrical narrative around the history of her family's apartment building in the heart of Damascus, the many lives that crossed in the stairwell, and how the fates of her neighbors reflect the fate of her country. At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians-the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds-who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of oppression that exists in a dictatorship, while privately confronting her own fears about Syria's future. The Home That Was Our Country is a deeply researched, personal journey that shines a delicate but piercing light on Syrian history, society, and politics. Teeming with insights, the narrative weaves acute political analysis with a century of intimate family history, delivering an unforgettable portrait of the Syria that is being erased.
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"Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek examines Syria through its history, her family's history, and accounts of the burgeoning conflict that is now taking place there. Narrating her own work, Malek describes life on her grandmother's apartment block in Damascus as well as her views on the looming danger. In juxtaposition, she makes comparisons to other places in the region she has visited. Malek is not a professional narrator, but her pronunciation of Syrian place names and other Arabic terms greatly enhances her reading, and hearing her audiobook in her voice also lays bare how the current situation has impacted families and led to the Syrian diaspora. Middle Eastern music at transition points helps to set scenes. S.E.G. © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine"
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