2016 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Finalist

2016 HIlary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist Deborah Campbell (Vancouver, BC) for A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War, Knopf Canada
Deborah Campbell
A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War 
Knopf Canada

Deborah Campbell (Vancouver, BC) for A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War, Knopf Canada


"
In a seamless blend of storytelling and reportage, Deborah Campbell’s A Disappearance in Damascus draws us into the struggles of Iraqi refugees settled in Syria after the fall of Baghdad.

The principal character, an Iraqi 'fixer' who is also a grieving mother and a nurturing humanitarian, is taken by secret police. Campbell’s account of the search to find her, written with compelling prose, nuanced context, and intimate narration, illuminates the dangers of life and work in a conflict zone through a riveting tale of courage, loss, love, and friendship."

- 2016 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury Carolyn Abraham, Stephen Kimber, and Emily Urquhart.

About the Book

The story begins in 2007 when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a “fixer”—providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out. Ahlam, who fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian centre, not only supports her husband and two children through her work with foreign journalists but is setting up a makeshift school for displaced girls. She has become a charismatic, unofficial leader of the refugee community in Damascus, and Campbell is inspired by her determination to create something good amid so much suffering. Ahlam soon becomes her friend as well as her guide. But one morning Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell’s eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find her—all the while fearing she could be next.

About the Author

Deborah Campbell has spent more than a decade reporting from such places as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Israel-Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, and Russia. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Economist, The Guardian, New Scientist, Foreign Policy, and The Walrus, and she is the recipient of three National Magazine Awards. Campbell teaches at the University of British Columbia and lives in Vancouver.

 


  
 
 

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