The Road From Raqqa: A Story of Brotherhood, Borders and Belonging
In “Places, Loved Ones” the poet Philip Larkin describes the feeling of belonging to a “place where I could say / This is my proper ground, / Here I shall stay.” It is this deep- rooted feeling of place that is at the root of Jordan Ritter Conn’s The Road From Raqqa. He tells the story of
the Alkasem brothers, Bashar and Riyad, who hail from a historic line of Raqqa’s ancestral leaders. Ritter Conn describes their childhood, the tribal ties and multigenerational gatherings that deﬁne the family’s identity and the ways in which these are eroded in time and by global political events: domestic politics in Syria, then attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and ensuing revolutions across the Arab world. As time progresses Riyad realizes that his fondness for Raqqa lives on only in his memories and through his family. This is a beautiful and touching love story for a city loved and lost.