Cover Image: My Road from Damascus

My Road from Damascus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I am ARC reader from netgalley -This book was not what I expected. I expect it to be a book about the bible not personal experience. Wish it had been more about the road to Damascus in the bible

Was this review helpful?

Wow, this was a tough listen, but definitely a must-read. Jamal documents his brutal prison years before escaping to Canada. The writing was beautiful and the narrator really brought the book to life.

Was this review helpful?

Wow, I couldn't tell whether this was fact or fiction due to the immense amount of torture the author went through - I cannot imagine going through that. This was a very powerful memoir about standing up for your beliefs and staying strong until the end - there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Was this review helpful?

My Road from Damascus was intense, poignant, and compelling.

It tells Saeed's heartbreaking and intense tales of his life during Syria's most tumultuous years. Jamal Saeed is a refugee in Canada and lived to tell his stories of imprisonment, but this book is not simply a prison memoir. This book shares Jaml's entire life with you from early romances, teenage rebellion, and escapes to freedom.

The audiobook is well done and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Was this review helpful?

The audiobook version of Jamel Saeed's "My road from Damascus" was a truly enlightening and moving memoir. Saeed explains his and his actions within Syria which ultimately caused him to be imprisoned twice in the conflicted county. During his imprisonment he was beaten, tortured, and starved to share details of which he did not have information (most of the time). Saeed, was from a group of advocates that did see the future of Syria differently than the government. This caused him and his family to constantly be concerned with their potential for being caught. However, in the description of his life and the actions that occurred in Syria, it became clear that anyone living in Syria was at risk from some group or another for not sharing the same ideals. This book was very enlightening in that it explained the extent and the intensities of the Syrian conflicts more deeply. Being an American, I believe I have lived in ignorance to this conflict, and never comprehended the extent to which the citizens of Syria were suffering whether actively involved in protests/political groups or not. The hardships that the citizens face daily is a strong reminder that freedom of speech and religion is a huge gift in America, and should be embraced and respected.

As for the audio of this book, I enjoyed the narrator's voice, and found it easy to listen to. However, there were a few glitches that caused sections to be repeated, and some sections to change tone/volume very quickly throwing the flow of the book off slightly. Overall, I strongly recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

This is a powerful memoir, harrowing, tough but touching and beautiful as well.

Jamal Saeed is a Syrian writer who escaped to Canada in 2016 after having been imprisoned various times by the Assad-regime. Jamal seems like such a nice person, he is sharp, smart, charming and modern. His ideas are in fact too modern and, to his detriment, he is not afraid to speak out.

The story is not told in a chronological order, which was a problem for me. I understand the choice, because it allowed to alternate the more harrowing parts with lighter episodes. However, it also made that there is no propulsion and as a result it felt too long.

I also felt that the narrator, although his voice is incredibly low and beautiful, was overacting a bit and when he pronounced Arab words his voice changed completely which was distracting.


Was this review helpful?

Jamal does and incredibly job detailing the harrowing account of someone experiencing imprisonment, violence and isolation. I felt like the audio book was incredibly well done and the voice actor did an incredible job conveying intense emotions . I cannot recommend this book enough.

Was this review helpful?

4 stars

A beautiful and touching memoir of one man’s quest for freedom of speech & human rights in Syria. This is an amazing book.

[What I liked:]

•This memoir is beautifully written, both in terms of the prose and in terms of Jamal’s beautiful heart for his family & for his country. His love and sense wonder are clear in his writing.

•The amount of torture and trauma that this writer was put through, starting in his teens, is horrific & difficult to read. However, I think it is very important that such stories are documented & read. Jamal structured this memoir by interspersing happy stories from his childhood with the more tragic ones of his time in prison. This helped me as a reader to not get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of trauma he went through. Also, rather than distracting from or lessening the pain that he suffered, having those joyful moments intertwined in the narrative gives contrast and shows what he was holding onto in prison and what his motivations were to survive.

•While I have read some books about the recent Syrian Civil War and its origins, I didn’t know much about human rights & politics in Syria in the 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s which this book covers. I learned a lot about the cost of free speech in Syria in Jamal’s youth.

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•As mentioned above, parts of this book are difficult to read due to descriptions of torture & cruelty. This is not at all a criticism of the book, I just want to make the content warning clear.

CW: torture, murder, suicide, child abuse, sexual assault, war violence

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

Was this review helpful?

Title: My Road from Damascus
Author: Jamal Saeed
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4.00
Pub Date: October 4, 2022

Thank you to ECW Press for sending me physical ARC as well as providing me with ALC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. #gifted

T H R E E • W O R D S

Horrific • Poetic • Descriptive

📖 S Y N O P S I S

Jamal Saeed arrived as a refugee in Canada in 2016. In his native Syria, as a young man, his writing pushed both social and political norms. For this reason, as well as his opposition to the regimes of the al-Assads, he was imprisoned on three occasions for a total of 12 years. In each instance, he was held without formal charge and without judicial process.

My Road from Damascus not only tells the story of Saeed’s severe years in Syria’s most notorious military prisons but also his life during the country’s dramatic changes. Saeed chronicles modern Syria from the 1950s right up to his escape to Canada in 2016, recounting its descent from a country of potential to a pawn of cynical and corrupt powers. It paints a picture of village life, his rebellion as a young Marxist and evolution into a free thinker, living in hiding as a teenager for 30 months while being hunted by the secret police, his youthful love affairs, how he survived his brutal prison years, his final release, and his family’s harrowing escape to Canada.

💭 T H O U G H T S

When the opportunity arose for me to receive an advanced copy of My Road from Damascus, it was one I couldn't pass up. I knew this book would be an eye-opening journey, allowing me to expand my knowledge and empathy for the ongoing struggles faced by the people of Syria today.
And I was absolutely right. I switched from the physical book to the audiobook as I made my way through.

Jamal Saeed tells his story in a heartbreakingly beautiful and non-chronological manner. His writing style is incredibly poetic as he details the injustices and indignities of the Syrian regime. While personally, I'd have preferred a chronological narration, I completely understand why the author chose not to do so. However, it did end up making the book quite long. While much of this book details his suffering, Saeed blends in the beauty as well. I think those moments of happiness were extremely important given everything else.

The audio narration read by Pasha Ebrahimi was excellent with good articulation and flow. I did need to speed up the narration, as the pacing is quite slow. Listening to the audiobook brought Saeed's story to life, and helped me with pronunciations I'd have otherwise butchered.

This is by no means a quick read, rather one that will make you pause to reflect and gather yourself in order to keep going. It's a book that will likely shift your perspective and make you reconsider your own privilege and cultural biases. It's an informative story of despair, love, resilience, and hope. If you're thinking of picking this one up, I'd highly recommend the audiobook to help move the story alone.

📚 R E C O M M E N D • T O
• readers looking for an in depth account of life in Syria
• anyone looking for a resilient story

⚠️ CW: violence, torture, gore, imprisonment, confinement, cursing, racial slurs, sexism, misogyny, death, injury/injury detail, police brutality

Was this review helpful?