Syrian wins 'writer of courage' prize

Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, second form right, was named by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy as the international "writer of courage". (AFP)

Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, second form right, was named by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy as the international "writer of courage". (AFP)

An exiled Syrian author and journalist, whose inside account of the revolution drew such ire from Syria's government that she was forced to flee the country, has won a literary award from international authors' group Pen for her courage.

Samar Yazbek was named by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy as the international "writer of courage" with whom she will share the Pen/Pinter prize. The award goes to a writer who, in playwright and Nobel-winner Harold Pinter's own words, shows a "fierce intellectual determination ... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies" today.

Duffy was picked as a winner by judges including Pinter's widow Antonia Fraser in July, and then worked with English Pen's Writers at Risk Committee to select Yazbek, in recognition of her book A Woman in the Crossfire, about Yazbek's opposition to the Assad regime, with her own observations of the bloody conflict and stories of the people at the heart of the revolution.

She was denounced by her clan and harassed by the country's security forces until she was forced into exile with her young daughter. Yazbek said the prize was "recognition of the Syrian people's struggle". – © Guardian News & Media 2012

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