“Books deliver us nearer together. They’re a bridge among us,” Hussan Ayash tells journalist Delphine Minoui over Skype. Ayash belongs to a set of rebels in Syria who spent 4 years, from 2012 to 2016, under siege in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus. In 2013, they located a cache of books inside the ruins of a bombed residence and determined to rescue them. They dug via the wreckage of other buildings as well, salvaging 6,000 books in one week, and created a secret library within the basement of an abandoned building. In specific but passionate prose, Minoui tells this splendid story in The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War.
With a French mother, an Iranian father and a domestic base in Istanbul, Minoui is aware the region nicely and has gained awards for her reporting on the Middle East. When she noticed a image of the library bunker, her first intuition changed into to tour to Daraya and begin interviewing these unusual librarians. That journey could be impossible, however, so she started out communicating with several of the young men on line and shaped an uncommon relationship with them, worrying constantly approximately their safety. This personal connection forms the coronary heart of the book, deepening the story even as laying bare the sacrifice and deprivation of the rebels. For those four years, Daraya became besieged by way of bombs and poison gas, meals become scarce, and there was no jogging water or electricity. As she communicated thru video chat, Minoui remained careful to keep her espresso and snacks out of the camera’s view.
“The library is their hidden fort against the bombs,” Minoui writes. “Books are their weapons of mass instruction.” Although a good the various library’s founders hadn’t grown up as readers, they became ebook lovers throughout the long siege. The library’s most famous titles shape an eclectic mix: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, The Little Prince, Mustafa Khalifa’s The Shell, Les Misérables and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The Book Collectors is a phenomenal story of hope inside the midst of entire devastation. As 23-year-vintage Abu el-Ezz advised Minoui in 2015, “Reading facilitates me assume positively, chase away poor ideas. And that’s what we need most right now.”