Rasha Abbas (Arabic: رشا عباس, born 1984 in Latakia, Syria) is a Syrian writer and journalist, best known for The Invention of German Grammar, a collection of short stories in Arabic about her experience as a refugee in Germany. She was a winner of the young writers' award at the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.

Life and careerEdit

Abbas was brought up in Damascus and studied journalism at Damascus University in 2002. While working as an editor at the Syrian state television, she published a collection of short stories, Adam hates TV, for which she won a young writers award at the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.[1][2][3]

When the Syrian civil war started, she joined the anti-government protest movement. A year later, she was forced into exile in Lebanon.[4] In 2014, she won a Jean-Jacques Rousseau fellowship for a three-month residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. During this time, she published her second book of short stories, The Invention of German Grammar. This fictionalised her experiences of settling in Germany as a refugee, and of learning the German language. The German translation appeared before the Arabic original manuscript. It was later published by the Lebanese office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and had to be slightly rewritten for Arabic readers.[5]

In 2017, Abbas participated in the Shubbak Literature Festival at the British Library, London. Her presentation, The King of Cups, was based on her research on the cultural and political ramifications of the short-lived union between Syria and Egypt as the United Arab Republic.[6][7] Her story “You can call me Velvet”, translated by Katharine Halls, was shortlisted for the 2021 ArabLit Story Prize.[8]

Abbas successfully applied for asylum in Germany after her residency in Stuttgart.[9] She currently lives in Schöneberg, Berlin.[5]

Selected worksEdit

Articles and storiesEdit

  • Rasha Abbas (30 October 2017). "Judo". Translated by Robin Moger. Strange Horizons.
  • Rasha Abbas (30 August 2017). "The Sword and Sheath". Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette. Shubbak Blog.
  • Rasha Abbas (1 July 2017). "King of Cups". Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette. Shubbak Blog.
  • Rasha Abbas (20 October 2016). "How Political Can We Get While Writing?". Schloss-Post.
  • Rasha Abbas (2 November 2015). "Miserable Work Chronicles". Translated by Alice Guthrie. Schloss-Post.
  • Rasha Abbas (October 2014). "Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette". Translated by Alice Guthrie. Words Without Borders.
  • Rasha Abbas (11 September 2014). "Art and Culture from the Frontline: In the hope that Syria Speaks even more!". Translated by Alice Guthrie. English PEN.


  • Rasha Abbas (2017). The Gist of It (in Arabic). Milan: Manshurat Al-Mutawassit. ISBN 9788885771192.
  • Rasha Abbas (2016). Die Erfindung der deutschen Grammatik [The Invention of German Grammar] (in Arabic). Translated by Sandra Hetzl. Orlanda. ISBN 978-3944666259.
  • Rasha Abbas (2008). Adam hates TV.


  1. ^ "Rasha Abbas und Dario Deserri beim Parataxe-Festival" (in German). Mikrotext. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  2. ^ Lilian Maria Pithan (August 2016). "Comedy is the best way". Goethe Institute. Retrieved 15 December 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Rasha Abbas: Germany/Berlin — Literature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau fellowship, Solitude fellow 2014". Schloss-Post. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  4. ^ Carolin Haentje (24 April 2016). "Kurzgeschichten über die seltsamen Deutschen". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Lynx Qualey, Marcia (2017-08-09). "Rasha Abbas, the 'King of Cups,' and How Literature Lags Behind Music". ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly. Retrieved 2021-09-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Daniel Lowe (14 August 2017). "Shubbak Literature Festival 2017: Catch-up Audio". Asian and African studies blog. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  7. ^ Raphael Cormack (24 July 2017). "What should we call exile?". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  8. ^ Lynx Qualey, Marcia (2021-09-15). "Judges Choose Inventive, Varied Shortlist for 2021 ArabLit Story Prize". ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly. Retrieved 2021-09-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Shahrzad Osterer (23 March 2017). "Zu Fuß vom Iran, nach Syrien, Israel und in die Türkei" (in German). Bayerischer Rundfunk. Retrieved 15 December 2017.

External linksEdit