The Irreverent Activist (2014)
As my publisher describes it:
This is “a collection of observations about topics ranging from freedom and justice to fate, faith, and love by Syrian pro-democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid—a man who belongs to the category of people who ‘can only be inspired to seek out the light on account of their continuous faceoff with all that is dark.’” The book is available via CreateSpace, an Amazon publishing company, and on the Amazon site itself. Copies can be ordered via bookstores and libraries as well.
Split into two sections, “Book One: Heretical Affirmations” contains sixty singular thoughts expressing the author’s philosophy that we need to remain grounded in reality as it is in order to change it—even though it may not feel good. The heresy lies in the idea that we need to derive meaning from the fight itself, and face the ugly realities of the world rather than ignoring negativity in favor of positive thinking and feel-good platitudes.
Then, with an intriguing, yet unsettling, change in tone and structure, “Book Two: Abel’s Confessions” offers ninety poetic musings illustrating Abdulhamid’s tortured inner turmoil, his yearning to transcend his shortcomings and contradictions to do some good in the world. This cathartic exposure of his frailties and vulnerabilities complements the first section of the book by inspiring us to never give up the struggle for human rights, no matter how daunting the task may be.
Menstruation (2001): My first published novel, published by Saqi Books in London, is still available in the original English via Amazon in print and as a Kindle book. French, Dutch and Italian translations are also available. The Spanish and Japanese version seem out of print.
Hasan, the local imam’s son, has the strange ability to smell a menstruating woman among a thousand others. This helps him classify members of the opposite sex with whom he has little contact until the day he has a brief affair with a married woman. This sexual initiation irrevocably transforms him and shakes his entire system of beliefs. Hasan no longer knows what to believe in nor who is he, he just knows he has to avoid the marriage his father has arranged for him.
Hasan’s story runs in tandem with Wisam’s, a friend of his sister’s, who is unhappily married and having her first lesbian relationship. Her sense of alienation from her husband, her frustration and her newfound sexuality echo Hasan’s questions about religion, culture and sexuality.
Coming Out Soon
The Voidman (a reprint): a collection of poems first published in 1997 by Avon Books. Avon Books, a small publishing house based in London, soon went bankrupt, however, and The Voidman was reprinted in 2000 in Damascus, Syria, by an underground publisher, and was distributed by hand within the small English circles in the country, made up mostly of returning expats and foreign diplomats. Recourse to underground publishing, a highly risky move in Syria at the time, and even now, was made necessary because some poems were clearly critical of the prevailing system of governance in Syria, especially the poem Under Patronage, which directly mocked Hafiz Al-Assad. But most of the poems in The Voidman were more psychological than political. The Voidman was also published online through my old personal website Amarji.org, which I took offline in 2010. But on May 30, 2016, a special website dedicated to The Voidman was launched containing all the original poems.
An Oriental Tapestry: This is another work of poetry made up of poems written back in the mid- to late 1990s. If The Voidman was politically controversial, this is even more so, with most of the poems reflecting the social and the political realities of the time. Just like The Voidman, the work was made available as an underground publication and distributed by hands. The work was also available online via Amarji.org. It will be printed soon with more poems from that same period.
Dear Struggler (عزيزي المناضل): a collection of articles and editorials, blog entries and comments from the various Arabic blogs that I have maintained throughout the years, as well as Facebook updates. All items have been published between 2000 and 2014. Most of the content was originally written in Arabic, except for few blogposts that appeared first in English on the old iteration of the Amarji blog and were translated into Arabic soon thereafter by members of the Tharwa team based in Syria for publication on my Arabic blog, Zandaqa.
Heresies (هرطقات): a series of meditations and thoughts on life, liberty, justice, religion and the historical processes, among other issues. All were originally written in Arabic, and a few were previously published as Facebook updates. The Heresies are intended as a direct and unapologetic challenge to the traditional way of thinking on the issues.