After two novels that approached the conditions of Syria during the past decade, the novel “Yesterday’s Homes” by the Syrian colleague and novelist Somar Shehadeh (1989) was recently published by “Dar Al-Karma” in the Egyptian capital, in conjunction with the fifty-fourth session of the “Cairo Book Fair”, which started today, Tuesday.
And if the first novel, “The Corn Fields” (Dar “Mamdouh Adwan,” 2016), stopped at the beginnings of the Syrian movement in 2011, which later turned into a bloody conflict that was exploited by many parties and led to general devastation, then the second novel, “Abandonment” ( Dar Al-Tanweer, 2019) monitors events that took place after 2017, after the sound of fighting subsided, to confirm that the war did not end despite the personalities’ resistance and their attempts to escape its repercussions.
The story of those separated by their homelands between leaving and staying, and between individual salvation and loyalty to the family
As for the novel “Yesterday’s Homes”, its events take place between Latakia and Dubai, and it presents the fate of people according to the fate of their countries, in an overlap between the personal and the public and between the political and the social. In a manner that the reader is introduced to in “Abandonment” (which in 2021 won the “Naguib Mahfouz Award for Arabic Fiction” awarded by the “Supreme Council of Culture” in Egypt), Shehadeh narrates, in “Yesterday’s Houses”, a contemporary story whose roots are in the past, in the countryside of Latakia during the Attempted coup by the president’s brother.-
However, the novel talks about another rift, and it tells the story of the separation and disintegration of a Syrian family, and in it we read the fate of love, its sharp ends and outcomes under the pressure or action of time, just as the writer puts the whole idea of the family at stake in the presence of selfish fathers, or due to the nature of the age, we find them in pursuit of eager to achieve their goals. As the discord between the spouses began with their move to the Emirates, and continued throughout their lives together for nearly twenty years. The novel, then, is about characters who cannot leave their place, and they cannot stay despite that. We see her confused between the homelands of the past and the new world.--
It is “the story of the separation of lovers from each other and from their homelands… and the story of the sharp ends of love in the life of a Syrian family that grows and collapses between Latakia and Dubai, where the fate of people sticks to the fate of their countries,” according to the publisher’s submission.
The presentation explains that it is “the story of those who were separated by their homelands between leaving and staying, and between individual salvation and loyalty to the family. A story about the repercussions of politics and war, and how the fates of those who discover the cruelty and violence of love and its resistance to oblivion and its failure to acknowledge loss are shaped.”
It is noteworthy that Somar Shehadeh writes critical articles in the Arab cultural press, and his first novel, “The Corn Fields”, won the “Tayeb Salih Prize” in 2016, and it is one of the novels that read the reality with all its complexities and frustrations with the beginnings of the Arab Spring.