Suad Aldarra

Posted by Sue Leonard on Friday 24th February 2023

As a teenager Suad wrote thrillers and romantic stories to explore a different world.

“And later, In Damascus. I wrote romantic essays and diaries,” she says. “I had two essays published in a Lebanese newspaper.”

After fleeing from the Syrian War, her reading and writing changed.

            “I realised how many stories there were from my own world and the things I had been through,” she says.

She and her new husband fled to Egypt, and after a year, to Ireland. Suad worked in Data Science in Galway until 2018 – also taking an MA and looking after her child.

“I was overwhelmed,” she says.

Finishing her MA in 2019, the couple moved to Dublin, and when the pandemic hit, she started writing her debut.

            “I was unemployed and had time to think,” she says. “I’d been in denial, and now it all sank in. I had to put my stories out there.”

In 2021, she returned to fulltime work. And she learned about the writing world, through the Penguin Write Now programme. After that, she found her agent, Doug Young at Pew Literary Agency.

            “We had three offers, and the book went to auction,” she says.

Who is Suad Aldarra?

Date of birth: 1986 in Saudi Arabia to Syrian migrants.  

Education: School in Riyadh. Damascus University, software engineering. NUI Galway, MA in Data Science.

Home: Dublin.

Family: Husband, Housam and son, Keenan, 5.

The Day Job: Works as a data scientist in a tech company.

In Another Life: “I want to live surrounded by books; reading them, writing them or even selling them.”

Favourite Writers: Paolo Coelho; Isabelle Allende; Dan Browne; Cecelia Ahern; Ghada Al-Samman. “And non-fiction about migration, war trauma and identity.”

Second Book: “I’m trying to work out whether to focus on more non-fiction, or to try fiction.”

Top Tip: “Never give up on an idea if it’s nagging to be told.”

Website. Twitter: @suadarra.

The Debut: I Don’t Want to Talk About Home. Doubleday: €13.64 Kindle: €11.98.

After a restricted childhood in Saudi Arabia, Suad studied in Damascus; but when war came to Syria, she fled to Egypt and then Ireland. But freedom, although welcome, can be hard to adapt to.

The Verdict: A stunning memoir about war, fear, identity and the struggle to belong.

Published in the Irish Examiner on 21st January,

© Sue J Leonard. 2023.

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