Sarmada, Arabic for “perpetuate” or “the eternally-not-changed,” is the novel’s fictitious setting. In the title, Fadi Azzam creates a new word (a derivative female form of noun-verb, which does not exist in Arabic) and in so doing immediately lets the reader know that women are the protagonists of this story that spans several generations, from Syria to Paris and back again. The novel is set in the Druze area and is a declaration of love for tolerance and for the peaceful coexistence of the many religious groups that live in close proximity. Myths, communists, nationalists, murder, illicit love, superstition, erotic trees and women’s breasts make up the tapestry of this strange, beautifully writen, first novel. Fadi Azzam narrates, just as he writes poetry: Sarmada is direct, ruthless and full of fire.
Fadi Azzam is a Syrian novelist and writer. He is the author of the highly-acclaimed Sarmada, longlisted for the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Huddud’s House, his second novel, was longlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. He was the culture and arts correspondent for Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and his opinion columns have appeared in the New York Times and in newspapers across the Middle East.