Yazbek was born in Jableh, Syria, near Latakia, in 1970, and studied Arabic literature at Latakia University. Yazbek has been a prominent voice in support of human rights and more specifically women's rights in Syria. In 2012, she launched Women Now for Development, an NGO based in France that aims at empowering Syrian women economically and socially and at educating children.
In 2010, Yazbek was selected as one of the 39 most promising authors under the age of 40, by Beirut39, a contest organized by the Hay Festival. In 2011, she took part in the popular uprising against the Assad regime, and was forced to exile a few months later. In 2012, she was chosen for the prestigious PEN/Pinter Prize "International writer of courage", in recognition of her book “In the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution”. She was also awarded the Swedish Tucholsky Prize, and the Dutch Oxfam/PEN Prize, in the following year. In 2016 Yazbek’s literary narrative “The Crossing” was awarded the prestigious French “Best Foreign Book” prize. Her novel, “The blue pen”, was in the third and final selection of the French Femina award, and was shortlisted to the National Book Award, New York under the title “Planet of Clay”.
In 2022, Yazbek was chosen by the Royal Society of Literature as one of its 12 International Writers, along with Anne Carson, Maryse Condé, Yoko Ogawa and Juan Gabriel Vasquez, among others, thereby joining the 12 inaugural awardees of 2021, including Annie Ernaux, David Grossman, Amin Maalouf and Olga Tokarczuk. The RSL international Writers program is an award recognizing the contribution of writers across the globe, celebrating the power of literature to transcend boundaries. New writers are invited to join the program each year.
Yazbek has published two collections of short stories, seven novels, four non-fiction literary narratives. Samar Yazbek lives in France. Her books have been translated in over twenty languages.
Co-sponsored by the Beck Series, Laura C. Harris Series, Anthropology, Arabic, International Studies, Journalism, and Middle East and North African Studies.