The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui

“An urgent and compelling account of remarkable bravery and passion.” ―Susan OrleanAward-prevailing journalist Delphine Minoui recounts the genuine story of a band of young rebels, a besieged Syrian town, and an underground library built from the rubble of warReading is an act of resistance.Daraya is a town outdoor Damascus, the very spot wherein the Syrian Civil War began. Long a domain of peacefulresistance to the Assad regimes, Daraya fell underneath siege in 2012. For four years, nobody entered or left, and resource become blocked. Every unmarried day, bombs fell on this place―a place of houses and families, faculties and children, now emptied and damaged into bits.And then a group looking for survivors stumbled upon a cache of books inside the rubble. In a week, they had six thousand volumes; in a month, fifteen thousand. A sanctuary was born: a library wherein humans could get away the blockade, a paper citadel to protect their humanity.The library presented a marvelous variety of books―from Arabic poetry to American self-help, Shakespearean plays to stories of struggle in other times and places. The site visitors shared photos and testimonies of their lives before the struggle, planned a way to construct a democracy, and tended the roots in their community despite shell-shocked soil. In the midst of the siege, the journalist Delphine Minoui tracked down one of the library’s founders, twenty-three-year-vintage Ahmad. Over textual content messages, WhatsApp, and Facebook, Minoui got here to realize the young men who gathered in the library, exchanged ideas, learned English, and imagined how to form the future, even as bombs stored falling from above. By telling their memories, Minoui makes a far-off, complicated conflict instantaneous and famous these young men to be ordinary heroes as inspiring as the books they read. The Book Collectors is a testomony to their bravery and a party of the power of words.

Description

“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.”

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