It all started with Erzähl mir von Deutschland, Soumar, and I wish I could remember how I heard of that book. I really liked it, written as almost a conversation between the author and his friend, a Syrian refugee who'd fled to Germany. I contacted the author, Florian Schmitz, to ask if there were any plans to have it translated into English, but a publisher has to be interested first, apparently. He told me they are planning a reading of the book for sometime in the fall in Stuttgart, and I just found out today when it will take place (Oct. 26 at 20:00 in a bookstore in Vaihingen).
videos and really like them! He usually gives advice to other foreigners about making their way in Germany, and his tips do not only apply to refugees. In his book Firas writes about his life in Syria before the war and during the revolution, his decision to leave Syria after being arrested, jailed, and tortured for filming what he saw happening around him, his journey to Germany, and his life since arriving here. That he can tell his story with a sense of humor speaks to his character and will probably appeal to many readers.
Both of these books go a long way to shattering - or at least challenging - assumptions and prejudices readers might have about Syrians, Muslims, and refugees.
John Oliver had talked about her. Nujeen has been unable to walk since birth and is confined to a wheelchair. She is from Kobani, Syria, and she and her sister fled to Turkey, across the sea in a flimsy boat to Greece, and over the Balkan route to Germany. At one point a BBC reporter saw her and interviewed her - which is what we see in the clip from John Oliver. She tells the reporter she would like to be an astronaut, and in the book we learn why. Despite the many obstacles made even more complicated by Nujeen's disability, their dream of living and learning in a country not torn apart by war spurred them on. Nujeen's sister pushed her most of the way, and at especially critical times others came to their aid and carried her.
So far all the books were in German, although I later found out that Nujeen's book was originally published in English, under the title Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey.
I read reviews on Amazon of several of the books, and as usual I was more interested in the non-five-star reviews than the five-stars. I'm always curious what people with some criticism have to say. I was disappointed in some comments that said the writing was dull or cheesy, the story "lost interest toward the end," etc. These are real stories of real people who went through more suffering than anyone should. I love good literature, but writing style is not important here; the details and the journey are important. Of course, that's just how I feel.
|Good thing I was never a librarian. I'm no good at making displays.|
As with Erzähl mir von Deutschland, Soumar, I liked learning how the writers (the German and the Syrian) think and what goes on in their minds. I have spent a fair bit of time with my Syrian friends, but I still have so many questions and there is much I want to know. I know they'd be willing to answer my questions, but I haven't taken the step yet of asking them. One thing is certain - just like with Americans, Germans, Christians, and whomever else, each individual is his or her own person, and there is no way one can or should lump people together and make gross generalizations about them with any certainty. If you find someone saying to you, "Syrians are..." or "Muslims are..." you can stop them right there, because they are wrong. Of this I am sure.
this encounter with Angela Merkel, who was blasted as a result for being stiff and cold-hearted. Near the end of the book Reem writes about that meeting in her school in Rostock and the aftermath, as well as her feelings toward Chancellor Merkel (which were and are far more positive than those of some of the media and many internet commenters).
Of course I am interested in these stories because so many details are similar to those I've heard from my Syrian friends and former students. The places, situations, fears, and uncertainties are familiar to me by now, and with every story I hear or read I am more amazed by the resilience of these people and what they were willing to go through to get where they are today. And they keep pushing forward despite the many frustrations of dealing with German bureaucracy and administrators, the German language, and a stiff and sometimes cold country with inflexible rules about what is allowed and what is not.
I do recommend each of these books and wish they were all available in English. I don't feel like I did them justice with my summaries, but I would read every one of them again.