Dina Yafasova is a writer in exile and a citizen of the world. Born in the Soviet Union (Uzbekistan), she studied journalism at Tashkent State University, from where she graduated in 1993, and formerly worked as a Central Asian correspondent for Danish and other international media. Her investigative reports (one of which, on state censorship, formed part of the submission to an official hearing before the US Congress in 2001) portrayed the daily life in a post-Soviet dictatorship. This eventually led to her being forced to flee in 2001 after having been subjected to torture and threats upon her life. She now lives in Copenhagen with her family.
In 2001 she was selected to take part in the US State Department’s International Visitor Program. The same year, she was honored with a Hellman/Hammet grant, a prestigious award given by Human Rights Watch to persecuted writers. In 2002 she was nominated for the Courage in Journalism Awards by the US Committee to Protect Journalists, but chose not to step forward publicly in order not to bring friends and relatives in her homeland in danger. In 2010 she was nominated for the Reader's Digest European of the Year.
Dina made her debut as a writer with Gyldendal, the largest Scandinavian publishing house, in 2006 with her book of documentary prose "The Darkest Hour is Before the Dawn" (entitled Sandholm Diary in Danish), which describes her flee from persecution in her homeland, a country that in the wake of the Soviet disintegration has evolved into a veritable new dictatorship where harassment, surveillance and death threats are the order of the day for anyone daring to criticize the regime. She describes her arrival at the Danish refugee camp on September 11, 2001 and her 173 days behind the barbed wire of Sandholm, where she encounters a sundry collection of refugees living under prison-like conditions as they are waiting for their futures to be sealed. It was an immediate bestseller and one of the year’s most hotly debated books. Critically acclaimed, Sandholm Diary has been referred to as “an eye-opener” and “excellent, major literature”.
"Don't Call Me a Victim!" is Dina's second book and a documentary novel, published by Gyldendal in Denmark in 2011. Critically acclaimed, Don’t Call Me a Victim! has been referred to as "powerful reading and an important book which deserves a lot of readers". The Danish newspaper Information has called it "a moving and necessary book about the long shadows of torture" and "one of works that comes the closest to describing the unutterable, boundary crossing, and degrading conditions in the torture cells of this world, where the ground substance of being a human being is offended every day". The readers wrote "Dina writes unusually well; her language is full of pictures and feelings and facts at the same time, and this also makes the book recommendable" and "the words were so brilliantly and honestly written and constructed in such a brilliant way that they made people understand and feel the horror and the human tragedy - and that this must be combatted".
Read more: Gyldendal.dk
Foto: Erik Refner