Surge of demand for Syria Speaks

Surge of demand for Syria Speaks

There has been a surge in demand for Saqi Books title Syria Speaks, after a woman who was seen reading it on a plane was detained by police.

Faizah Shaheen was stopped by police at Doncaster Airport on 25th July after she was seen reading Syria Speaks: Arts and Culture from the Frontline and reported by a Thomson Airways cabin crew member for “suspicious behaviour”. She was detained on her way back from her honeymoon in Turkey and interrogated for 15 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

After the story surfaced in the national press last week, sales of the book have increased, and publisher Saqi Books has now rushed through a reprint of 1,000 copies of the work. However, the title's sales increase has not been enough for it to register on Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market Top 5,000 yet.

Lynn Gaspard, m.d. of Saqi Books, told The Bookseller: "I think the most heartening development has been the wide public support for Faizah Shaheen and for the book. Over 50 of the Syrian writers and artists who contributed to Syria Speaks continue to struggle against state and Islamist aggression and we have to show our support to these very brave people. Though many of the contributors are now in Europe, several are still in Syria - some have been arrested and others have 'disappeared'."

Written by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud, Syria Speaks is a collection of essays and other documents from over 50 artists about non-violent protest and “challenging the culture of violence" in Syria, published in 2014.

A contributor to Syria Speaks, Robin Yassin-Kassab, will be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival thsi month at a panel titled 'How We’re Failing Syria' which will discuss subjects of refuge, migration, banishment, exile and sanctuary.