The Book Collectors of Daraya
The compelling story of how a group of young Syrian rebels found hope in the midst of war – hope that came from books
‘The Book Collectors of Daraya celebrates the political and therapeutic power of the written word . . . defiant and cautiously optimistic’ Financial Times
‘[An] incredible chronicle . . . The book tells the kind of story that often gets buried beneath images of violence’ LitHub
In 2012 the rebel suburb of Daraya in Damascus was brutally besieged by Syrian government forces. Four years of suffering ensued, punctuated by shelling, barrel bombs and chemical gas attacks. People’s homes were destroyed and their food supplies cut off; disease was rife.
Yet in this man-made hell, forty young Syrian revolutionaries embarked on an extraordinary project, rescuing all the books they could find in the bombed-out ruins of their home town. They used them to create a secret library, in a safe place, deep underground. It became their school, their university, their refuge. It was a place to learn, to exchange ideas, to dream and to hope.
Based on lengthy interviews with these young men, conducted over Skype by the award-winning French journalist Delphine Minoui, The Book Collectors of Daraya is a powerful testament to freedom, tolerance and the power of literature.
Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud.