Biographical Information

Nihad Sirees was born in the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo (Halab) in 1950. His literary interests date from childhood when he wrote one-act plays that were presented at school. He has a Masters in civil engineering and ran a private engineering office in Aleppo.  His first novels were published in the 1980s and he gained a reputation as a realist in his writings which reflect the environment in Aleppo and the lives of the middle class, as well as political, historical and social issues.
He has written 7 novels and a number of plays, TV drama series and children’s dramas. His novel The North Winds, which deals with the First World War and the the blossoming of Syrian national consciousness at that time, was described by critics as one of the most important historical novels in Syria.
He is also recognized for his original approach to television drama with the widely screened series The Silk Market, set in the political turmoil of the 1950s and 60s and which presented the environment, culture and dialect of Aleppo for the first time in Syrian television drama. This highly acclaimed television series was praised for its realism, courageousness and dramatic suspense. It is still being telecast on satellite channels and it was translated for screening in English, Farsi (Iran) and German. His work also includes a TV series about the Arab-American writer Kahlil Gibran which was screened in 2008 in countries around the Middle East.
His novel The Silence and the Roar, banned in Syria, has been published in German and French and most recently was published in English in early 2013 by Pushkin Press in the UK and Other Press in the USA. It is also being translated into a number of other languages.
Branded an opponent of the Syrian Government, after increasing surveillance and pressure from the Syrian government, Nihad Sirees left Syria for Egypt in early 2012.
He is currently in the US as the 2012-13 International Writer in Residence at Brown University, Providence R.I.

Media coverage in English – articles by Nihad Sirees, interviews and reviews.


English PEN award for writing in translation 2013.




Daddy Dearest – inside the mind of Bashar al-Assad by Nihad Sirees, NewsWeek (Mar 5 2013)



Geography of secrets by Nihad Sirees, Pen Atlas (Jan 17 2013)



The Silence and The Roar of the Syrian Civil War (April 8 2013)
Aslan Media by Ted Graham


The Prophet of Aleppo (Mar 4 2013)


Against Totalitarianism: Syria’s Nihad Sirees on Fiction and Morality-

Publishing Perspectives (Mar 5 2013)


NPR Weekend Edition (national) Interview with Nihad Sirees (Mar 10 2013)


A Timely Portrait of Syria on the Brink -NY Daily News (April 1 2013)


Review, The Parrish Lantern (Mar 22 2013)


Politics and Prose: Nihad Sirees – Interview, Publishers Weekly (Feb 8 2013)


Self-exiled Syrian author voices criticisms of regime, Brown Daily Herald (October 26 2012) -


Visiting writer living the power, danger of words – Providence Journal, RI (October 28 2012)


Writing, Revolution, and Change in Syria: An Interview with Nihad Sirees – Jadaliyya (Aug 23 2012)



Independent On Sunday – Lucy Popescu (Jan 13 2013)


The Sunday Guardian - Sanjay Sipahimalani


The National – Malcolm Forbes (Dec 2012)

The Church Times – Gerald Butt (Jan 31 2013); subscription needed for online edition)


Banipal Books – extract & reviews (print & online; Nov 2012)


Publishers Weekly – book review (Jan 21 2013)


Independent – Robin Yassin-Kassab (Mar 22 2013)




Nadia Ghanem – Arab Literature (Feb 1 2013)


Sarah Irving – Arab Review (January 13 2013)


Sarah Irving – Review of Silence and The Roar


Marcia Lynx Qualey – Review in ‘The Kenyon Review’ (Feb 4 2013)


BBC Radio 3 ‘Night Waves’ interview (broadcast Jan 29 2013)


BBC WS Radio ‘The Strand’ interview (broadcast Jan 31 2013)


CNN ‘Connect The World’ - Becky Anderson


BBC World Service, Newsday  – Nihad Sirees reflects on the Syrian conflict – (broadcast Mar 15 2013)



SYRIA SPEAKS - Purcell Room, London (Jan 29 2013)

SYRIAN WRITERS NIGHT – Waterstones Piccadilly, (Jan 30 2013)

Sarah Irving & Nadia Ghanem together give their accounts of the 2 events in a separate blog on Arablit


Susanna Tarbush – TANJARA (Feb 3 2013)

(a very full description of Waterstones discussion on Jan 30)