Alia Malek: Syria, Inside and Out


photo_Malek, Alia (cr Peter van Agtmael)

Alia Malek, photo by Peter van Agtmael

Alia Malek is the author of The Home that was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, in which she she weaves the personal history of her family – particularly her maternal grandmother – and offers insights from Damascus.

In 1970, her grandmother’s flat was occupied by a (legal) tenant who refused to leave. In the same year, Hafez al-Assad took power over Syria, then succeeded by his son, the current president, Bashar al-Assad with over 40 years of the same family in power. When Alia’s grandmother finally got her flat back, she headed to Damascus to help renovate. As the building grew, the nation crumbled. Alia tells us the story of her family and the country.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Alia is an award winning journalist and a civil rights attorney. She’s reported in The New York Times, The Nation, The New Yorker amongst other publications. In 2011, she moved to Damascus and reported from the ground anonymously.

While in town for Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival, Alia Malek and I sat down together to chat about some of the history and current brutality that afflicts Syria, on interviewing family while maintaining safety, and journalistic credibility as an insider/outsider on the ground.

This interview aired for the Nov. 20th episode of Intersections Radio. Check out the podcast!


Air date: 11/20/2017 
**Read the transcript here: 111317 Intersections with Alia Malek transcript