Hassan Blasim’s ‘The Corpse Exhibition’ Coming to Penguin USA in 2013

Hassan Blasim’s new collection, which is out later this year from the UK’s Comma Press, has been sold to Penguin USA (in combination with his first). The news release:

Manchester’s Comma Press have just sold Hassan Blasim’s short story collection ‘The Corpse Exhibition’ to Penguin USA (editor: John Siciliano).

And I should note, translated by Jonathan Wright. Back to the release:

The deal is for a collection of stories comprised of both his first collection, Madman of Freedom Square, and his second, The Iraqi Christ (due out in the UK in December). The US edition, titled ‘The Corpse Exhibition’ is expected out in the Fall 2013.

I think The Corpse Exhibition is probably a more saleable title, vs. either Madman of Freedom Square or The Iraqi Christ (and the US title does reflect one of the earlier stories).

Hassan has twice won the English PEN Writers in Translation Award. His first collection was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and led to him being described by The Guardian as ‘perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive’.

Note: This was Robin Yassin-Kassab’s description. You can read his review here, and mine here

The Italian cover, which I always find a bit overwhelming.

This first collection, written in Arabic, by a refugee based in Finland, was first published in English translation by Comma in 2009, and has since been translated into Polish, Finnish, Italian, and earlier this year, after a long wait, finally appeared in its original Arabic. This latter was a heavily censored version and in April was officially declared a ‘banned book’ by the Jordanian (presumably because of its treatment of sectarian violence and its secular point of view).

By the Jordanian? Anyhow, the Jordanian-banning story here.

Hassan’s first collection constituted the first major piece of fiction about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective.

I assume they mean “translated into English.”

And this sale to Penguin will see that work published for the first time in the US. It represents a great vote of confidence in Comma’s investment in both the short story and literature in translation. (Comma are also launching their China short story showcase, Shi Cheng this month).

Yes, indeed, good on Comma for investing in Blasim.