Sunday, 13 November 2016

Three Days In Damascus by Kim Schultz

Three Days In Damascus by Kim Schultz
Published in the UK by Palewell Press on the 30th October 2016.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS is a memoir about a three year fight for a chance at love with an Iraqi refugee the author met in Syria. While traveling to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to interview Iraqi refugees and hear some of their stories, Kim never expected to fall in love with one of them. But that is exactly what happened. This is the story of one American woman and one Iraqi man set against the backdrop of the Iraqi refugee crisis. Through actual Iraqi refugee interviews, a whirlwind middle-eastern love story and the consequently doomed, intercontinental relationship told through texts and emails with civil war, revolution and an arranged marriage as the backdrop, we learn of culture and devastation, desperation and redemption, while still never losing hope.
While there are roughly 65 million refugees worldwide, approximately five million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes since the U.S led invasion of their country, most of them fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Since Syria is currently in the midst of a violent civil war, the Iraqis there are left in an extremely dangerous position— stuck between a rock and a hard place with nowhere to go. This timely memoir examines the lives of dozens of these Iraqi refugees trying desperately to survive in a world blind to their plight and one Iraqi in particular: Omar.
Told through a strong narrative and a surprisingly comedic lens, the reader travels with the author through this unknown, sandy terrain breaking assumptions, stereotypes and expectations — in a journey that ultimately ends in the most traditional assumption one could imagine: a Middle Eastern man agreeing to an arranged marriage. And after three years of trying to “save” Omar and salvage a life for/with him, she discovers maybe he wasn’t the one who needed saving."

Following on the heels of four other recent reads surrounding aspects of the Middle East's refugee crisis, Three Days In Damascus approaches the topic from a different perspective, that of a Westener trying to do something, anything, to alleviate the intense suffering she witnesses. Kim Schultz describes her month as part of an artistic group researching Iraqi refugees lives in order to present their stories to Americans back home, raising awareness of the humanitarian disaster unfolding. During this time she met one Iraqi refugee, Omar, who didn't tell her his story. Instead these two very different people formed an strong and immediate bond which led to three years of struggling to be together.

I was interested to discover Kim's artistic viewpoint, particularly in describing her weeks spent with Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and of the lack of open discussion of the crisis in America. Kim obviously struggled to contain her emotions on many occasions and I wonder if this intense starting point was what led to her extreme tenacity in fighting to maintain a relationship across thousands of miles, both in physical and cultural distance. Her frustrations at technological problems severing their communications served to clearly illustrate just how much of what we take for granted is denied to refugees in their limbo existence. Perhaps I could have done without quite so many Messenger transcriptions, but Three Days In Damascus is certainly a worthwhile addition to current literature highlighting refugee experiences and awareness.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kim Schultz / Biography and memoir / Books from America