Scheduled for release in February, "Where the Wind Calls Home" introduces us to Ali, a 19-year-old Syrian soldier on the brink of life and death, vividly portrayed by the talented novelist and journalist Samar Yazbek. Ali, lying beneath a timeless tree, grapples with memories oscillating between joy and pain. He's unsure if the body being laid to rest is his or another's, consumed by haunting uncertainty. Award-winning translator Leri Price renders Yazbek's exploration of war's devastation, the allure of Ali's traditional Alawite village, and the profound connection between Ali and his surroundings in English.
Beneath the scorching sun, Ali struggles to piece together the events leading to his current predicament. Recollections of a bomb and clouds reminiscent of his childhood intertwine, though he now stands on a different mountain than the one he once called home. Ali's village, where he and his deceased brother toiled as laborers on a tobacco farm before volunteering for the army, witnessed the loss of many young lives, leaving families shattered.
Yazbek's meticulously paced narrative delves into the trauma of war and the complex identity of a soldier. Despite political turmoil, life persists, shielded by Ali's mother Nahla, who has always safeguarded him from the harsh realities. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of mourning the president's demise and celebrating his son's ascension to power.
This poetic novel encapsulates Ali's life in the Alawite village and his profound bond with the landscape, where he feels as deeply rooted as the ancient trees. Yazbek, known for works such as "Child of Heaven," "Clay," "Cinnamon," and "In Her Mirrors," has a compelling nonfiction portfolio, including firsthand accounts of the Syrian conflict in "A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution" and "The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria."