With Ash on Their Faces was one of the New Internationalist's Ten Best Books of December 2017, and was listed as one of the Best Human Rights Books of 2017. Cathy won the One World Media New Voice Award for her coverage of Trump's Muslim ban and the war with ISIS for Politico and the New Yorker, and was nominated for the Print Award for her Guardian reporting. Judges said: "Her work spoke to the very best dedication to her craft and her subjects." In Spring 2018 Cathy was a Logan Nonfiction Fellow and a finalist for the Kurt Schork Memorial Award for courage in journalism.
“The best kind of humanist journalism: lucid, transparent, grimly realistic.… (N)o book has covered it better.”
–Ryan Boyd, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Contemporary testimony [grounded in a] wealth of historical context ... an urgently necessary chronicle of the Yazidi genocide"
"An intense and morally needed chronicle of the Yazidis’ battle for survival, providing evidence for one of the most brutal acts of barbarity of this century and, from this, perhaps leading to something verging on accountability ... An intelligent depiction of Yazidi women’s ongoing resilience, suffering and survival […] Despite the distressing nature of the testimonies, perhaps another remarkable aspect of the book is the delicacy, free from sensationalism or excess, with which Otten approaches the narratives.”
"Otten’s writing interlaces centuries-old practices with first-hand accounts of indelible pain, delivering a book that is both timely and historical – revealing a side of the secretive community that most readers are unlikely to have heard of. The heart of the book is rooted in reporting that is exhaustive, incredibly lucid and thorough. The author recounts the fear and anguish of the Yazidis in minute detail, walks the reader through the women’s terrifying journeys and finally looks to the future."
"Otten's solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.”
"Deeply reported ... a sensitive account that Otten pieces together unsentimentally and unsensationally."
"[A] Stark, shocking book"
- New Internationalist One of the magazine's Ten Best Books of December 2017
"This is an intelligent and perceptive book about one of the great tragedies of our age. It is also an inspiring story of resistance and survival that everybody should read."
- Patrick Cockburn, Middle East Correspondent for the Independent and author of The Rise of the Islamic State: ISIS and the new Sunni Revolution.
"There are two constants in the modern history of genocides: they are recognized too late and their victims, particularly if they are women, are presented as passive sufferers. Cathy Otten's important and morally urgent book tells the story of a on-going crime and a history of strength and resistance. Told with great care but with neither sentiment nor sensationalism, With Ash on the Faces, needs to be read by all those who care about justice -- and by those too occupied with global power to care"
- Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Modern Literature & History at the University of East Anglia and author of the Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremberg.
"Otten tells the Yazidis' remarkable story with a deft and detailed hand in this revealing account of suffering, endurance and survival. An essential read for anyone interested in the plight and resilience of one of Iraq's most persecuted minorities."
- Anthony Loyd, Foreign Correspondent for the Times and author of My War Gone By, I Miss It So.
"Woven through with heart-breaking, terrifying accounts of its survivors, and demanding an understanding of their community’s historical persecution, Otten’s searing chronicle of ISIS’ genocide of the Yezidis is compelling and devastatingly necessary."
- Sareta Ashraph, former Chief Analyst with the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the UN's Inquiry on Libya, and prior to that, Legal Adviser to the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defense in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Book interviews/in the news:
Freed Yezidis forced to leave Isis children behind - Sunday Times. March 2019.
Journalists are giving their lives to get these stories out - Grazia magazine. February 2019. (pdf)
Palestinian literature festival connects readers with writers - Gulf News. November 2018.
"All the survivors have a book inside their hearts" - SBS. August 2018.
Graphic memoir illustrates new frontiers in ISIS coverage - Columbia Journalism Review. July 2018.
Living in the Shadows author interview - The National. June 2018.
Living in the Shadows of the dead - Los Angeles Review of Books. April 2018.
Is there a way back from sectarianism in Iraq? - New Humanist. March 2018.
With Ash on Their Faces Review - The Times Literary Supplement. January 2018.
Yezidi Women and the Islamic State - Hurriyet Daily News. January 2018.
Book review - London School of Economics. November 2017.
'With Ash on Their Faces' The Story and Struggle of the Yezidi - NPR November 2017.
The Fall of Raqqa interview - CNN October 2017.
With Ash on Their Faces interview - Critical Life podcast February 2018.
Yezidi Women and Iraq After the Islamic State - Turkey Book Talk podcast January 2018.
With Ash on Their Faces interview - BBC Scotland November 2017.
With Ash on Their Faces Interview - Svenska Dagbladet. September 2017 (Swedish).
"They came to exterminate us" - Huffington Post. September 2017.
Countering Violent Extremism Podcast - Corsham Institute. September 2017.
With Ash on Their Faces Book Interview - BBC World Service September 2017
Covering Conflict in Norther Iraq Interview - Iraq Matters Podcast August 2017
With Ash on Their Faces - Kirkus. August 2017
Cover art by Molly Crabapple