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Susanne Burge - Author of Without Borders Syria
Author Susanne Burge

Without Borders Syria - Susanne Burge

About the book


A Love story about a young doctor who journeys into war-torn Syria to rescue two small boys from besieged Old Homs. Without Borders will appeal to those wanting to understand the current conflict in the Middle East and the rise of ISIS.

Ana, a young doctor working at Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, does not understand the implications of eleven year old Rahim’s disclosure until it is too late. The daily trauma she bears witness to, takes its toll and she has demons of her own to contend with. Not least, the self-styled mafiosa don who seems to control this camp and his terrifying companion she believes to be a commander with ISIS, Qassem. Aware of the horrors Rahim survived, Ana does not for a moment, consider him capable of going back into Syria for the little brother they left behind. Then, one day, he disappears.

Compelled to go to their rescue, Ana heads for a secret field hospital in besieged Old Homs but, by the time she arrives, she has barely escaped the clutches of ISIS, putting those who help her, in mortal danger. And then she meets Caleb. He came back to help his mother and find his father, a journalist disappeared during the first uprisings. They fall in love and, determined to get Ana out as soon as possible, Caleb agrees to help her find the children.

All does not go according to plan. Captured by the dreaded Shabiha and handed over to their monstrous leader, Ana experiences herself, both agonising injustice and courageous love. For bound by a dreadful secret, neither Qassem nor Caleb, are who they appear to be. Without ultimate sacrifice, their fateful history looks likely to repeat itself and once again, innocence will pay the price.

I never intended to write a story set in Syria. The catastrophe engulfing that country is too upsetting to contemplate and writing about it would have to do justice somehow, to those people it sought to represent. But then, in January 2013, two news items hit the headlines that I could not ignore. The fate of Dr Abbas Khan was particularly shocking and struck a personal chord. He was a British hand surgeon, married with young children, whose punishment for going back to help his people in Syria was imprisonment and death by torture and starvation. As a doctor, I too, have considered offering my services in places where it is most needed. The fate of Dr Khan could have been mine if I had had the courage to act on my convictions as he did.

Not long after this, we were presented with evidence that Assad’s machine had systematically murdered thousands of his citizens in the same way and I have to remind myself with shame, that President Assad is also a qualified doctor.

Without Borders is inspired by heroes who rise above depravity, demonstrating the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and the redeeming power of love. It is based on the testaments of survivors.

Karen Blixon once said “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.”

In the words of editor, Philippa Donovan: “This is an extra-ordinary story of human courage and love. Delicate yet forceful. Traumatic yet redemptive. Moving and informative but not didactic. It would sit alongside commercial fiction such as The Kite Runner and Half of a Yellow Sun.”