Virtual Event: Book Talk: The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War
with Delphine Minoui
Reading is an act of resistance.
Long a site of peaceful resistance to the Assad regime, the town of Daraya fell under siege in 2012. For four years, no one entered or left; aid was blocked and bombs fell daily. A group searching for survivors stumbled upon a cache of books in the rubble and transformed it into a library that offered a marvelous range of books—from Arabic poetry to American self-help, Shakespearean plays to stories of war in other times and places. It became a sanctuary with over fifteen thousand volumes, a place where people could escape the blockade.
Award-winning journalist Delphine Minoui tracked down one of the library’s founders, twenty-three-year-old Ahmad. She came to know the young men who gathered in the library, exchanged ideas, learned English, and imagined how to shape the future, even as bombs kept falling from above. By telling their stories, Minoui makes a far-off, complicated war immediate and reveals these young men to be everyday heroes as inspiring as the books they read. The Book Collectors is a testament to their bravery and a celebration of the power of words.
Delphine Minoui, a recipient of the Albert-Londres Prize for her reporting on Iraq and Iran, is a journalist and Middle East correspondent for Le Figaro. She is the author of several books in French. I'm Writing You from Tehran is her first book translated into English. Born in Paris in 1974 to a French mother and an Iranian father, she now lives in Istanbul.
Kim Ghattas is a journalist, author and analyst with more than twenty years of experience in print and broadcast media, covering the Middle East, international affairs and US foreign policy. She is a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She has reported for the BBC, the Financial Times and de Volkskrant. She is the author of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Forty Year Rivalry that Unraveled Culture, Religion and Collective Memory in the Middle East (January 2020, Henry Holt) and The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power (February 2013, Henry Holt) She serves on the board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut and on the board of directors of the organisation of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ). She was born and raised in Beirut.