Reporter Gwenaëlle Lenoir tried to dive inside Ra's Caesar of SyriaThat Syrian military photographer who risked everything to show the world pictures of the bodies whose owners were tortured in the prisons of the Damascus regime, to write in a coherent and poignant narrative an internal dialogue filled with the smells of death and full of silence, courage and cowardice.
With this introduction, the “Ourian 21” website opens – a report by Nina Chatel – in which she reads the novel “The Black Room” by journalist Gwennael Lenoir, in which she speaks in a transparent and lively manner about the routine life of that father photographed in the morgue of the military hospital in Damascus, with his blouse and his office far from his colleagues and superiors, and the cakes that he His wife puts it in his bag, and he doesn't ask questions. “That wouldn't be wise.”
Lenoir warns from the beginning that this book is a novel. Its main character is real. This photographer exists and lives in hiding somewhere in Europe. His code name is “Caesar.” The atrocities described in the novel are proven and the facts are documented. “But his voice is my voice. It is the voice of a man sneaking around.” Doubt him.”
This morning, 4 small corpses were waiting in the drawers, then they became 6, then 12, then 15. Soon there was no more room in the drawers, and soon the tortured corpses piled up on the hallway tiles and in rusty trucks parked in front of the door. At night, the nightmares begin and the photographer’s consciousness wakes up, and soon… What also dispels doubt?
Evidence accumulates on the photographer's memory card. He will risk everything to smuggle it before leaving the country despite the risk of finding himself on the other side of the lens, a tortured corpse that provokes terror and astonishment in a moment of fear and admiration.
A hub for all stories
Gwenaël Lenoir only knew what everyone else knew about Caesar, which was that he was a fugitive military forensic photographer, but when she discovered his story in 2014, she knew she wanted to write about what felt like a big deal. How did he manage to stay for two years? How did he do? How would I do? This first-person question takes the writer towards imagination, towards an intimate answer that the journalist knows will not be available in the newspaper story.
This book is intended to be a tribute to the strength and courage of all Caesar-like dissidents, and to those for whom revolution became a quiet conviction and turned their backs on a system that imposed fear and silence. “The dead must speak because we the living cannot speak. They have sewed up our lips and torn out our tongues for decades.” “They started silencing our parents. Our parents silenced us and we silence our children.”
Lenoir: The dead must speak because we who are alive cannot speak. They sewed up our lips and tore out our tongues decades ago. They began to silence our parents. Our parents silenced us and we silence our children.
In addition to being an influential work and an essential document for those who do not know the story of Caesar, this novel – according to the site’s report – is a vibrant call to disobedience, allowing you to imagine what it means to live under a totalitarian regime and explore a range of feelings, from the tenderness of intimate relationships to constant anxiety at work. Streets and cafes.
The urgent need to write and read
To write this novel and immerse myself in the daily life of a photographer at a funeral ceremony in a military hospital, Gwenaëlle Lenoir recalled her readings, films, and personal experiences, citing “The Shell” by Mustafa Khalifa and all the meetings that marked her career as a journalist in the Middle East, with Michel Kilo, Soha Bishara, and other survivors of the Tadmur and Tadmur prisons.Saydnaya.
Chatel: It is time to read these works that attempt to bring this revolution out of oblivion, and to pull Caesar and the others out of the abyss, where hopes pile up in the common grave of our humanity.
Gwennel Lenoir's novel “The Dark Room” is an opportunity to return to fictional or realistic works inspired by an indescribable reality, and like many works, it was born from the urgent desire to speak and write.
The time has come – as Nina Chatel sees it – to read these works that attempt to bring this revolution out of oblivion, and to pull Caesar and the others out of the abyss, where hopes accumulate in the common grave of our humanity, as the “dark room” is considered, as its name does not indicate, an additional ray of light. In this natural landscape.