Alia Malek is a journalist and civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka: US History Retold Through Arab-American Lives and editor of Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice. Her reportage has appeared in several places, including The New York Times, The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, Jadaliyya, McSweeneys, Granta, and Guernica.
Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrants, she began her legal career as a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. After working in the legal field in the US, Lebanon, and the West Bank, Alia holds degrees from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown and has earned her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
In April 2011, she moved to Damascus, Syria and wrote anonymously for several outlets from inside the country as the situation around her began to disintegrate. In November 2013, she was honoured with the Marie Colvin Award for her reporting from Syria.
Alia returned to the US in May 2013 for the launch of Al Jazeera America, where she was a senior writer and frequent onscreen contributor until October 2015. In October and November 2015, she was in residence at the MacDowell Colony.
She is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and working on a nonfiction narrative on Syria – a memoir of family, home, and country. She is also collaborating with Magnum Photos as the editor of a guide for refugees arriving in Europe.
Alia’s work focuses on the people whose lives are impacted by the events making headlines. As an Arabic speaker with nearly 20 years of professional experience in the Middle East, this often means delving into the stories of people from the region, as well as those in diaspora because of exile or immigration. Her work frequently explores the themes of identity and belonging and seeks to move readers past narratives they've grown accustomed to about those who are seen as "others".
She will be speaking during Session 4 entitled "Audience Fatigue vs Editor Fatigue".