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The Pianist of Yarmouk

Narrated by: Nezar Alderazi
Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Pianist of Yarmouk, by Aeham Ahmad, read by Nezar Alderazi. 

One morning on the outskirts of Damascus, two starving friends were walking through their war-ravaged city. They entered a once familiar street that had now been turned to rubble - concrete bridges towered over them like tombs, and houses were turned inside out. One of them, Aeham, turned to the only comfort he had left - his piano - and composed a song of hope. It was a song that would reach beyond the rubble and bring a message of solidarity to his fellow Syrians and all those suffering the devastation of war. 

Growing up in a close family in Damascus, Aeham had everything he needed. At a young age, with the fervent support of his father, he fell in love with the piano. Yet, as the years passed, the brutal civil war began to tear apart both Aeham's city and his life until he lost friends, family and eventually his home. Forced to leave his country alone and seek safety, he was left with nothing but his gifts as a musician. 

This is the captivating account of Aeham's life - a gripping portrait of a man's search for peace and of a country that has been fiercely torn apart by war.

©2019 Aeham Ahmad (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

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Hear our cry

Aeham Ahmad is the pianist in the green T-shirt in the iconic image seen world-wide. He's playing his piano wheeled out into the ruined streets of Yarmouk, the outer district of Damascus for decades the area of Palestinian refugees. His piano was later burned in front of him when Isis took over the area. He and his family endured - and survived - the siege when many around him starved to death with nothing but clover in their stomachs, others disappeared into detention, and many more were shot.

From his eventual sanctuary in Germany, Ahmad dictated his story to an accomplished ghost writer who wrote this blisteringly excellent testimony now published in many countries. The celebrity gloss now surrounding him risks diminishing his experiences, but it doesn't diminish this honest memoir which should be compulsory reading / listening.

It takes us through Ahmed's childhood with his blind father's insistence that his son should learn to play the piano and the old man's learning to tune the old piano which the family was given. Ahmad's passion for his music and his singing and his sincere belief in their healing properties are unshaken by experiences of sniper fire which cut the tendons of his fingers in one hand, killed the sparkling star-child of his street choir before his eyes, detention in state prison for attempting to escape from where he heard the constant screams of his tiny sons through the walls - and much,much more - and his final escape to Germany.

No news report brings home exactly what the destruction in Syria's war has done to the innocent civilians trapped by it. Ahmad continues to feel crippling grief for what he left behind, even though he and his wife and sons are now safe.

It's the most tender, heart-rending, shocking, mind-shaping,, indelible testimony that you will read or hear. Beautifully read..

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Amazingly told true story. Cant stop rethinking it

Amazingly told true story. Cant stop re-thinking it in my head, google you tube videos, reading further materials about Aeham. What a hero, what a talent not only for piano, but also for story telling. Highly recommended.

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  • 10-08-19

Beautiful. Heart rending.

The reader’s calm, matter of fact descriptions somehow heighten the horror of everyday brutality.
The book is filled with the best and worst of humanity. Should be compulsory reading in our schools.

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Beautiful and heartbreaking

I loved this beautiful, heart breaking but ultimately story of hope. The world is a scary place at the moment.

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Totally excellent

A powerful insight into life in wartorn Syria. He writes sincerely and openly. the book is moving and inspiring, 100% recommend

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Incredible

What an amazing book! I simply couldn't stop listening. I learned so much about Syrian life before the war and the hardships of being a refugee, it was a real education. Aeham has a wonderful way with words and the book is beautifully read by Nezar Alderazi. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and keep up the great work in the face of such adversity.

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Inspiring

I have enjoyed listening to this immensely.
I have learnt so much about the terrible experiences of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
I wish everyone could listen to this and begin to understand just how it is for refugees.

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an incredibly moving story

this book became my constant companion even on the lawnmower. was able to ignore Brexit politics for a whole week and relegate it to the mildly annoying rather than a critical disaster.