A deeply affecting novel based on the true story of a Syrian refugee.
Eva Nour is a Swedish journalist who writes under a pseudonym. In 2015 she met “Sami”, a Syrian asylum seeker whilst working in Paris. The two became friends and later, more seriously involved. Nour persisted in asking Sami questions about the Syrian civil war that started in 2011, encouraging him to open up about his experiences. The result is the remarkable The Stray Cats of Homs, a novelisation of Sami’s story.
The novel begins with Sami’s childhood. He grows up with three siblings and loving parents. Soon enough, the brutal nature of Bashar al-Assad’s police state starts impinging on Sami’s life. He learns to be careful of what to say and to whom. In 2011, a series of non-violent protests against the Assad regime take place which are brutally repressed. When civil war breaks out, many human rights abuses take place that are impossible to countenance. Surely the rest of the world won’t let such violent injustices take place?
Skillfully constructed to make for engaging reading, The Stray Cats of Homs shows how the Syrian civil war, through Sami’s story, has devastated countless lives. A humbling story delivered with grace and humanity.
The Stray Cats of Homs, by Eva Nour. Doubleday $29.99
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books