Above is the beautiful cover of Sinan Antoon‘s new novel The Pomegranate Alone, designed by Mohammad Al-Shammarey. The book should be out in the next two weeks from al-Mu’assassa ‘l-`Arabiyya in Beirut.
I hope the English translation gets the same cover.
Antoon is a poet, translator, and the acclaimed author of I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody. From an April interview with Electronic Intifada, in which he describes the new book:
The novel is about the son of a traditional body-washer and shrouder in Baghdad who rebels against his father and wants to be an artist and to move away from death, so he studies art at the academy and tries to forge his own path. In the 1990s and under the sanctions, he can only work painting houses and there isn’t much space for art amid all the destruction. In this last war his father dies and to make money he is forced to do the very same work he tried to run away from his whole life. He washes and shrouds so many corpses every day that he is traumatized and starts to have nightmares and is totally drained. So much of the novel is ruminations about life and death and how one and if one can ever come to terms with all this death. He tries to leave to Jordan, but is denied entry and has to keep on washing the dead. The new poems are all about the underworld and severed heads.