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City of Jasmine

Oneworld. Apr. 2019. 256p. tr. from German by Katy Derbyshire. ISBN 9781786074874. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781786074881. F
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OrangeReviewStarNews of war-savaged Syria (or anywhere) can turn people into statistics, but here Grjasnowa ((All Russians Love Birch Trees)) provides a close-as-skin understanding of what it's like to suffer bombardment, torture, and dislocation while remaining human and hopeful. When Paris-based surgeon Hammoudi returns home to renew his passport, he is not permitted to leave and eventually works 'round the clock in a dirty basement as the only doctor saving lives in his part of Damascus. He briefly meets Amal, an actress full of life and daring who joins demonstrations, endures imprisonment, unearths an awful family secret, and becomes involved with Youssef, a young director targeted by the regime. Hammoudi makes his way to Greece and Amal and Youssef to Beirut, all heading for Europe. You'll care for them and their heartbreaking fate.
VERDICT Highly recommended.

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