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A sweeping fictional saga, inspired by real events, that follows the fate of refugees family, caught in the turmoil of the developing Syrian civil warShare Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/jrUEm 1023 views
|Literary Fiction Historical Fiction|
|6 publishers interested|
In December 2010 a humble street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi put himself on fire on a street in Tunisia, in order to protest against the abuse of the local authorities, sparkling a raging wildfire of civil unrest across the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. This period was publicly dubbed by historians as the "Arab Spring". Leading to civil wars and wild anarchy, this widespread revolt caused hundreds of thousands dead and wounded and millions of refugees that have lost their homes and scattered around the globe in the search of asylum. This story is about these refugees.
“When Winds Blow West” is a sweeping fictional saga, inspired by real events in the Middle East. The story follows the fate of a Kurd family, caught in the turmoil of the developing Syrian civil war.
As the events develop in the background, the story-line takes the family from their quiet life in their hometown, through a tense and dangerous escape to neighboring Turkey. There they soon discover that their refugee status, reckless decisions and bad luck brings fresh troubles as each family member meets his own hell.
The protagonists are not perfect; they have flaws, make grave mistakes and find themselves in ever increasing struggle; but only their inner strength as a family is renewed over and over.
Last but not the least, the one episode of this dark era, triggering me to write this story, was the hard photos in the media of the drowned three-years-old Aylan Kurdi, on the beach of Budrum, Turkey in 2015. He fled with his family from their home in Syria, to Turkey, ending his odyssey in a tragic attempt to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece.
Owing my own childhood experience as an immigrant to the Middle East, I can understand the feeling of being alien in your new home. I wanted to reproduce for the Western reader, the microcosm of the refugee, a status that overwhelms the comfortable reality of most. The intention of the manuscript is to be a dark, realistic drama.
The book opens with the introduction of the family – the main characters of this book; the parents Hasem and Salma and their children Rustam, Nur and Ajar. First protagonist is Ajar, the youngest child of the family, with the events presented mainly from his perspective. After the initial introduction, the turmoil of the civil war in their home country, Syria, is being felt, forcing the family to flee to seek asylum abroad. After deadly encounter with an ambush on their way, they are left with cousin Salim. Eventually they reach the border and cross it successfully to Turkey; just to find themselves residents of an UN refugee camp. Salim run away from them and the conditions in the camp deteriorate until Salma is being brutally attacked. The incompetence of the authorities pushes them to leave the camp. Hasem gets involved in a shooting event during their escape, with circumstances implicating him as the killer. They flee to a rural town and hide until the truth is discovered, making them flee again. The police manage to locate them and Hasem is taken for a trial to Istanbul. The family follows and luckily a known defense attorney Dr. Tamrik helps them with housing and representation in court. Rustam finds a workplace in a cheap fashion stall at the big market of Istanbul. Salma soon discovers that the authorities are biased towards Kurds and refugees. Meanwhile, Rustam’s friend Ali, persuades him into taking part in a drug distribution network. He takes him to his drug lord, in order to get him involved. The story-line jumps back to Hasem, as he lies beaten and delusional on the floor of his cell, recollecting his violent interrogations with inspector Ardunas, which tries to make him to confess. Ali serves as Rustam’s mentor. One day, they get into trouble, when the police nearly catch him with incriminating quantities of drugs. Rustam manages to escape, but get robbed in the process. After that, Ali disappears, while Rustam is longing for his friend and wondering about him. Their next encounter occurs by surprise, when Ali detonates himself in a terrorist act. The children get injured and the story-line continues with Nur’s suffering from the serious wounds she has got. Inspector Ardunas connects Rustam to Ali and uses it as a leverage to make Hasem to sign the admission of guilt. In a dramatic sentence in the high court, Dr. Tamrik manages to clear Hasem in the last moment, leading to his release. Nur finds herself in a life critical situation in the hospital, but finally manages to survive. Dr. Tamrik convinces Rustam to be a witness for the law enforcement authorities that will allow incriminating the drug lord. Before the deal is carried out, they that Dr. Tamrik is murdered and the family flees from Istanbul due to fear of the criminals and the police. They smuggle Nur from rehabilitation center and go south with one purpose; to find a boat to cross the sea to the Greek islands. After meeting with an old friend, Hasem manages to find a smuggler ready to take them across Aegean Sea. They go out to the sea and… well; you’ll need to read the book to find out.
I believe that my main target audience is readers that are witty, intelligent, liberal and people-loving, that care about what is going on in this world. On the other hand this book is not intended to be on a “heavy” side; including much of a drama, thrill and adventure elements in its plot, this book could be attractive as well to a reader from the general public – someone who has little knowledge or interest on the events in the Middle East. I’d rather say that this book takes a non-cynical approach for the events; it follows people’s lives and their tragedies, so I guess that the reader of this book will be probably a less cynical person.
According to Author Learning website January 2018 Report, analyzing Amazon, the largest US retailer of literature, most of the spending on fiction are on digital copies, but it depends on genre. The leading category of book sales is literature fiction by far, especially in digital sales, so the prospects of successful campaign are promising.
Alexander Tatievsky was born in Russia (then Soviet Union) in 1981, in the city of Yekaterinburg and immigrated with his family to Israel in 1990 for a permanent residency. He served three years of mandatory military service in the IDF and later studied in academy (BSc in Aerospace and MBA). He is an engineer, married and a father for two lovely children.
This book is his first foray to the deep ocean of fiction literature. Nevertheless it is a work in which much thought has been invested, intended to present an emotionally difficult issue of current affairs. No doubt that with some professional polishing, this manuscript will shine brightly on the literary skies among the others.
The only experience in published writing was in the realm of professional non-fiction; a modest contribution to Wiley’s Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering (First published: 15 December 2010, Print ISBN: 9780470754405).
Can’t say I have a strong side on this one; being a citizen of a non-English speaking country, I can try to promote the book in some writers groups online, but unfortunately I really don’t have any access to any significant potential audience.
Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family's Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption Paperback – July 28, 2015 by Dr. Vinh Chung:
Where the Wind Leads is the remarkable account of Vinh Chung and his refugee family’s daring escape from communist oppression for the chance of a better life in America. It’s a story of personal sacrifice, redemption, endurance against almost insurmountable odds, and what it truly means to be American.
Sea Prayer Hardcover – September 18, 2018 by Khaled Hosseini
Exit West: A Novel Paperback – February 27, 2018 by Mohsin Hamid
One of the most anticipated books of 2017, Mohsin Hamed’s novel of the strife created by the Syrian Civil War is told through the lens of the love affair of young Nadia and Saeed. The pair find one another as their country teeters toward violent conflict and explosive unrest climbs to a terrifying fever pitch, forcing the couple to flee for survival.
The Boy on the Beach: My Family's Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home Hardcover – August 21, 2018 by Tima Kurdi
An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents.
It seems that this genre is popular right now, with many authors, including famous ones writing books on this topic. Anyhow, though I didn't read these books, I'm pretty sure my book introduces a fresh and intriguing view on these dramatic events.
The dull sound of thunder rolled across the nocturnal scene of the wilderness. Lone tumbleweed rolled on its way in the dust, as if hurrying to escape the dark nimbus clouds, hanged torn over the horizon. These clouds did look as an old drapery, barely seen in the light of the pale moon.
Something was strange, not normal. The heavy atmosphere was full of a smell of electricity. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t the light burned aroma of the electrical current, but rather something sweet and heavier; a disguise of sweet, something that made you freeze at once in anxiety, unable to move even an inch to the safety harbor of the known.
Then it struck.
Brownish clouds were much closer now and the first greasy droplets fell with a whooping splash on the ground. The heavy smell immediately filled the air, making the rain even less bearable. Heavy drops were splashing around like tiny footsteps, saturating first the hungry soil, then covering it with mud, creating some fragile rivulets and thick puddles, filling the cavities of the ground, only to gain power and later become to a much more intensive. The wind growling as a wild cat, gained power, striking with the stinking droplets all over the face, shoulders and body of Ajar, taking the rain to a whole new level of storm, even a hurricane. Greasy particles flew all over, from the front and from the sides, not hesitating to sneak cowardly even from behind.
A real shitstorm.
This was a summation of the feelings Ajar had that moment, as much as child can comprehend the horror and complexity of the frightful situation. The short desert rain, just passing the lonely yard, made the air crisp and clear, filling it with a freshness of a washed car. He was wet and shaking badly, while mom was covering his mouth with her hand, as to catch out the inevitable shout of fear.
The people in the small crowd were in extreme despair. Ajar’s family gathered together as sheep, hugging each other tightly, as if it could divert such a danger from their heads. Salim, was in a state of a deep shock.
“Shut the fuck up!” ordered Tajik with his beaming voice.
The murmuring sounds of the crowd were instantly lowered by an order of magnitude, leaving only slight whispering or a quiet sob once in a while.
“Very good!” continued Tajik, showing satisfaction from the effect of his persona on the audience, “You all might stay alive. About that bitch, well, she was a Kurd, what could I do?”
Theatrically raising his shoulders as an act of inevitableness he summed up the events, “I’ve talked enough. You will be taken prisoners; each of you will be taken care personally. The kids should go to the Sharia madrasa for studies of the Quran and the sacrifices needed for the Allah, the adults will be sent to work.”
Then his hawk eyes were targeting Salma, scanning her curved body without shame.
“Not all of you, don’t worry kitten,” he smiled to her with a nasty smile.
Salma’s cheeks turned red, while Hassem became furious.
“Don’t you dare…” he said quietly to Tajik’s direction.
“What did you say?” Tajik took the rifle in his hand standing solid, “Do you want to die too, like this Kurdish bitch? The kitten, is she yours? Don’t worry; I’ll take care of her personally”
Hasem started to get up, not minding the gun pointed straight to his chest.
“Well, if you are ready to die, just say so,” Tajik went to a firing position, his comrades smiling.
Before Tajik could perform another move, a short shriek was heard and suddenly his feet collapsed, like a tree being chopped with a giant axe.
In a moment all were in state of confusion and then gunshots and explosions were heard all over. It was obvious that someone was attacking this check-point’s force.
The guards ran into action, shooting in all the directions, and the prisoners, exploiting the sudden turmoil, dispersed and ran away to the darkness of the night.
Ajar was running with his family, his hand held by his mom, Rustam and Nur running along with him, heavily breathing. After a few hundred feet of cross-passing the stones and a field of dry and thorny weed in the darkness, Hassem told them to stop.
They fell down behind a bush, heavily breathing, looking frightfully around them.
“Wait, wait...” whispered Hasem, trying to catch his breath, “I need to go back, I can’t leave Salim behind. Hide here; I’ll be back in a moment”
Salma was silent for a moment, but then nodded approvingly.
“Come’on children, lay on the ground,” she whispered.
Ajar, Rustam and Nur obediently lay in the dark shadow of the bush.
Hassem jumped to his feet, and bending with the shadows of the low desert vegetation, ran towards the weak glow in the horizon, where the yard was located. The shooting in that direction was now more sporadic and becoming weaker, as the battle place was slowly moving southwards. Ajar and Rustam lay together on their backs, their heads touching, as mother disappeared in the darkness with Nur at another bush to pee.
“Don’t you worry little brother,” whispered Rustam quietly, “Don’t cry”
Ajar didn’t even notice as the teardrops were running down his dirty cheeks, leaving dark streaks over his face. He didn’t want to cry, it just happened. All the events, and the brutal death of auntie Suzan and cousin Kamal that night, left on him a deep emotional scar.
“Dad told me we are going to Turkey,” continued Rustam
“What is Turkey Rustam?” asked Ajar with childish naivety.
“Turkey is another country. People there dress differently, they have a different language and even the holidays are not exactly the same as we have,” explained Rustam. Even in this difficult situation, laying in wet clothes on the bare soil in the middle of nowhere, hiding from crazy terrorists, Rustam couldn’t get rid off his habit of showing-off his knowledge of everything. “They have big cities on the sea shore, like we were in that resort in Lataquiya. The largest city is so big, that in one street, there are more people living than in our whole town of Tagrit. They have zoos and cinemas and shopping malls – it is like grandpa’s grocery store just huge and they sell there all kinds of things, not only pots and spices.”
“They sell super-hero toys too?” asked Ajar with hope.
“Of course they do, silly,” Rustam turned to the side, whispering directly to Ajar’s face, “They have all kind of stuff. We’ll go there and travel and it will be a great adventure”
“Will we ever return home?” replied Ajar with a rhetorical question, knowing himself the answer.
Rustam was quiet for a few moments and then answered, “I don’t know little brother. Maybe one day, when the war is over. It was only a short time ago that everybody lived peacefully, now it is a mess. Dad says that freedom comes with a heavy cost and probably our country is not ready for it, everybody hates everyone.”
“I don’t hate Rustam, why do people have to hate? It is like that fat man over there? People are like him?” Ajar asked with a serious face.
“Of course not all the people, but some are like him. You know, you’re still very young, but I know others don’t like us Kurds, because of our customs, or our culture, I don’t know… It is the same as a new kid in school we had last year, Umbar Rashid. Until we all knew him better, and it took some time, we were harassing him, because he was different. He came from Peshawar, it is in another country. We could barely understand what he was saying. But after few months, I’ve became friend of him – he is a good friend and plays soccer the best in class. Do you understand?”
Ajar lying on his back looked on the sky. The overcast was now scattering, allowing some of the stars to be seen between the clouds.
“I think I do, Rustam”
The few stars seen in the charcoal opening in the sky were shining with a solid cold light; eternal and emotionless to all that was happening on the ground.
A slight rustle was heard from the right side. Ajar turned his head and saw mom and Nur coming back to them.
“Dad didn’t come back yet?” asked Nur with a weak and tired voice.
“Not yet…” answered Rustam.
They lay all four close to each other, trying to warm up from a chilly breeze in their wet clothes. Ten minutes later, two dark silhouettes appeared near the bush – it was Hasem and Salim. Salma hugged them both with much affection.
“Hey baby, we’ll take care of you, don’t worry” she said softly to Salim.
Though he still in shock, he was definitely relieved to be with family.
“Lets go guys, it isn’t safe to be here,” whispered dad, taking his backpack he managed to grab in his retour, on his back. The family went up silently and went after him in the northbound direction, guided with the aid of a digital compass and a map on a small mobile phone.
After about hour of walking through the desert on a dirt trail, thankfully relatively flat in this area, they saw in a distance of about two hundred feet the lights of a small gas station with a kiosk. Feeling tired, they nevertheless increased their pace, just to get to this destination and use the amenities.
“Oh… thank God, I was dreaming about a cup of a good hot coffee,” Salma broke the silence.
“Mom, can I have an ice cream?” whined Nur.
“Yes, I guess you can, you all can”
They were now near the back of the station, when Hasem told them to stop, to check if it’s safe to enter. He went around a low brick wall and after a few moments called them to come. Salma and the children hurried to the little window of the kiosk, asking the sleepy cashier for a chocolate ice cream with peanuts and candies topping. Hasem bought strong black coffee while Salma got her wished espresso in a paper cup. Then they all went to sit around a small wooden table near the kiosk stand, painted in plain white, each deeply concentrating, as if concerned not to disturb the depressing loneliness of the night. Salim stopped eating his ice-cream and looked grim, with a sad expression in his big brown eyes. Salma sighed and went to sit near him and hugged him tight.
A minute later, two army trucks entered the empty gas station.
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