Reading My Way Around the World

Saturday 25 April 2020

Book Review: The PIanist of Yarmouk

I've been getting through lots of books on my round the world reading challenge since the new year and the lockdown has been helping me get through the pile lying by my bedside.   I've updated the list on the dedicated page to include the new countries I"ve been to and thought I'd do a bit of a deeper review of some of them over the next while.

A while back I joined a charity book club called ShelterBox.   They send a book every 6 weeks or so from a new writer and there have been some very interesting titles in their selections including this one.  The donations to the charity help with their work with refugees around the world, particularly now with the coronavirus epidemic hitting so many places that are already in crisis. 

So my top book for this year so far has to be The Pianist of Yarmouk

Syria/Palestinian Refugee Camp 

 The Pianist of Yarmouk by Aeham Ahmad *****

You may remember seeing a picture in the news a few years back of a pianist playing in the middle of the rubble of one of the refugee camps in Damascus.   Well that was Aeham Ahmad and this book is his memoir - a truly inspiring story of hope in the most awful of places.

He grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, on the outskirts of Damascus, where Aeham's father, himself a musician, does everything in his power to give his very talented son a musical education.  It gives a very intimate account of the actualities of life in these conditions and gives a bitter sweet insight into the life of one of the people we saw walking in those terrible queues of people tyring to get into Europe a few years ago..   Thankfully Aeham survived to tell his story and is playing now in much more salubrious conditions with his family by his side.   I would love to meet him and shake his hand.


  1. Sounds like a great story, but I'm finding it hard to concentrate on reading at the moment. Take care, stay safe & huggles.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book about survival under the worst of circumstances. What a well written review you posted too.

  3. Thank you Inger - yes I reallly enjoyed it.

    @Susan - lovely to hear from you - yes I'm finding it hard to concentrate on some things, but reading is helping me escape.

  4. It's been a long time, Fil. But I found your blog again and so good to know (in these uncertain times) that you are still pursuing your many loves. Thank you for your positive posts :)
    I'm not sure what will come up as my "name" as I haven't blogged for so long now but I'm still - Pempi xxx

  5. Hi Fil - it was a BBC Radio 4 book of the week ... and I do remember reading about his story. It's just amazing how passion and ability can pull people through the most awful periods in time ... thanks for posting about him and for the Shelterbox information, which I've noted for future. Stay safe - Hilary

  6. I've made a note of the Shelterbox and will pass on the info to my book group people as this is something they might be interested in.
    Thank you for the recommendation.

  7. Shelterbox book club sounds like a wonderful idea, I have never been part of a book club but I might be tempted by this. The book sounds amazing but I am not sure that I could read it. Since becoming a Mother I find some books so difficult to read, it changes your perspective and stops me sleeping as the thoughts go round my head!

  8. @ Sustainable Mum - I know what you mean - there are certain books that I can't read anymore if they're too traumatic, they stay with you for nights and nigths. But I found this one more factual rather than disturbing and it gave me a huge perspective on what we see on the news.

    @Julie - yes, the books are very interesting and it's a great way of supporting new writers as well as the charity.

    @Hilary - yes it was a book of the week and well deserved too. Good to hear from you

    @Pempi, how wonderful to hear from you - I've thought about you often and I hope all is well with you and yours. YOur name just came up as Unknown.

  9. That sounds an amazing book! I think I must look out for that! I will check out Shelterbox too! Thanks for sharing!x


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