An Orchard in Damascus

Original Title: Le verger de Damas

Publication: 2024

Author: Camille Neveux

A moving, multi-generational family drama and coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and Syrian Revolution.

Syria, 1995: Aïssa is 7 years old and goes to school every day with his stomach in knots, dreading the violence of his teachers and the state propaganda they are fed constantly. But one evening he joins a group of youngsters who follow instruction from a reformist sheikh, and the experience opens his eyes to the notions of freedom, human rights and democracy. 16 years later, Aïssa and the ‘shebabs of Daraya’ orchestrate the uprising which ultimately leads to the Syrian Revolution. But events that day at the first protest take a dangerous and tragic turn. Forced into exile, Aïssa finally settles in France, taking a dark secret with him…

Lebanon, today: Exiled on the other side of the border from her Syrian homeland, 12-year-old Nermine has one priority: to rebel against the conservative society which has brought her up. Rebellion seems to come naturally to her – maybe due to the unusual circumstances around her birth and the absence of her father whom she has never met. When she spies a secret message on her mother’s phone one day, Nermine, just as headstrong and obstinate as her uncle Aïssa, will stop at nothing to reveal the secret which has haunted her family for so long.

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Original Language

FRENCH | JC Lattès
FRENCH (ppbk) | Livre de Poche

Prizes

Longlisted for the Prix Maison De La Presse 2024

Reviews

"A deeply moving story of love and rage at the heart of the Syrian revolution." Delphine Minoui, bestselling author of The Book Collectors of Daraya

"An Orchard in Damascus is a stunning first novel... Camille Neveux writes about a Syrian family condemned to exile for dreaming of democracy and freedom." Livres Hebdo

"An impressive novel of seamless storytelling and tender, heartbroken humanity." La Tribune Dimanche

"In this debut novel filled with poetry, Camille Neveux ... interweaves grand history with personal history by weaving together the intimate destinies of three generations poisoned by unspoken truths and torn apart by war. Heart-wrenching." Version Femina

"Like a treasure hunt spanning three generations, taking readers from 1995 to 2024, this debut novel brings contemporary history to life through the perspectives of both men and women. Hearts are laid bare, and bodies are broken. The author's words compose a heart-wrenching hymn to freedom." Ouest France