The Home That Was Our Country (Paperback)

A Memoir of Syria

By Alia Malek

Nation Books, 9781568588445, 368pp.

Publication Date: March 13, 2018



Alia Malek weaves a lyrical narrative around the history of her family's apartment building in the heart of Damascus, the many lives that crossed in the stairwell, and how the fates of her neighbors reflect the fate of her country.

Reading Group Guide Included

At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians--the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds--who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of oppression that exists in a dictatorship, while privately confronting her own fears about Syria's future.

The Home That Was Our Country is a deeply researched, personal journey that shines a delicate but piercing light on Syrian history, society, and politics. Teeming with insights, the narrative weaves acute political analysis with a century of intimate family history, delivering an unforgettable portrait of the Syria that is being erased.

About the Author

Alia Malek is an award-winning journalist and civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka and editor of Patriot Acts and EUROPA. Her reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Nation, and Christian Science Monitor, among others.