Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Divided Countries

July 2017

July-2017-Divided-Countries-Sama-Alshaibi-Mount-of-Olives-East-Jerusalem
Image: Sama Alshaibi, Contested Land Series—Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem, Digital Pigment Print, 23 inch x 23 inch each, 2007. Courtesy of Sama Alshaibi and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.

Image: Sama Alshaibi, Contested Land Series—Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem, Digital Pigment Print, 23 inch x 23 inch each, 2007. Courtesy of Sama Alshaibi and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.


As the world seems to grow more polarized every day, we present writing about countries struggling with internal divisions. Writers detail ethnic conflicts, clashes between factions, and territorial disputes to reveal the human costs of wars at home. In Syria, Wendy Pearlman interviews a dedicated physician risking his life to treat the victims of violence. Palestinian writer Abbad Yahya’s unmoved teen chafes under the intifada. Twenty years after the war, Croatia’s Zoran Janjanin observes the unexpected reunion of two not-quite-star-crossed lovers. Claudia Hernández’s resourceful young girl stares down Salvadoran guerrillas, and graphic novelist Jeroen Janssen returns to the Rwanda he fled during the genocide. In Turkey, Kemal Varol’s minesweeping dog sniffs out bombs and marks his path. Iraqi Nawzat Shamdeen sees the vulnerable son of a martyr literally go underground, and Pema Bhum recalls a doughty teacher’s brilliant rescue of the Tibetan language during the Cultural Revolution.

“It’s Us and Them”: Writing from and about Divided Countries
By Susan Harris
In the current environment of relentless political strife . . . debate deteriorates into name-calling; partisans morph into zealots, complex issues are reduced to binary terms, and hostility seethes just beneath the surface.
A Doctor from Homs
By Wendy Pearlman
Most massacres occurred after Friday prayers.
Crime in Ramallah: Noor’s Story
By Abbad Yahya
There were a lot of weapons being brandished, a lot of threats being shouted, and there was a lot of waiting around. The intifada uprising shifted from the streets onto the TV.
Translated from Arabic by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
MultimediaMultilingual
Losing Ground
By Zoran Janjanin
“It wasn’t a civil war. It was a rebellion.”
Translated from Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursać
How Dorje Tsering Saved Tibetan
By Pema Bhum
Everyone knew that the way to become a revolutionary was through the Chinese language and not Tibetan.
Translated from Tibetan by Tenzin Dickie
The Collapse of a Cellar
By Nawzat Shamdeen
“They shoot them right outside their front door and then send their folks a bill for the bullets.”
Translated from Arabic by Alice Guthrie
Fifteen Days
By Claudia Hernández
They’d take the girls to the hills for three or five days.
Translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches
from Abadaringi
By Jeroen Janssen
“Those are things you mustn’t ask questions about. Some people get sad.”
Translated by Michele Hutchison
The Angels Who Wiped My Fate Clean
By Kemal Varol
I was bound. I was a registered piece of inventory. I was a liability. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Translated from Turkish by Dayla Rogers