Review no 83: Syrian feature documentary ‘For Sama’

I watched For Sama (2019) on All 4, knowing only that it was an Oscar-nominated film about the Syrian conflict, dedicated to the baby daughter of the journalist and film maker Waad al-Kateab (and co-directed by Edward Watts). I expected it to be harrowing, but I was unprepared for how gripping and powerful the film […]

Review no 59: Capernaum, film by Nadine Labaki (Lebanon)

NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA This is a beautifully realised but harrowing 2018 film, directed and co-written by Nadine Labaki, and nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Film in the 91st Academy Awards. The film made the shortlist, although it eventually lost out to Mexican film Roma. According to Wikipedia, Capernaum (a […]

Review no 54: The Attack, book by Yasmina Khadra (Algeria)

Translated from the French by John Cullen NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA Yasmina Khadra is the nom de plume used by veteran Algerian army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul, who now lives in France. He has written several novels that have been translated into English, including this one, The Attack, which has been shortlisted for […]

Review no 39: A Girl Made of Dust, Nathalie abi-Ezzi (Lebanon)

NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA I recently joined the Shelterbox Book Club, which for a donation of £10 a month sends me a regular book for discussion as part on an online book club, and also helps to provide emergency shelter and resources for families affected by disaster worldwide. The most recent book […]

Review no 31: Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq)

Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA This is a strange book with an excellent title, winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014 and shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker international prize. (I often wonder what prompts a particular book to be translated into English, […]

Review no 20: Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (Iran)

Gripping and informative memoir of growing up during and after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It’s accessible graphic novel format, and engaging and often very funny narrator make this required reading. Five star brilliance.

Review no 8: Leila Slimani, Chanson douce (Lullaby)

MOROCCO / FRANCE : NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA My daughter told me I had to be honest about how long this book took me to read. I bought it in French in Paris a year ago, and did little more than dip into it until this summer. I studied French at university, […]