Friday Finds: New Work in Translation by Hassan Blasim, Fadwa Soleiman

Over at Bookanista, Jonathan Wright has translated a new short story by Hassan Blasim, titled ““Don’t kill me, I beg you. This is my tree.” And over at Prairie Schooner, a new Fadwa Soleiman poem appears, shortly after the author’s death, translated by Marilyn Hacker.

The story by Blasim is set to appear in the anthology The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat, edited and introduced by the Icelandic novelist Sjón and English author-editor Ted Hodgkinson, published by Pushkin Press, as part of a year-long celebration of Nordic culture.

The story opens:

He woke up and , before the last vestiges of the nightmare faded, made up his mind. He’d take him out to the forest and finish the matter off. Fifteen years ago, before he’d shot him, he’d heard him say, “Don’t kill me, I beg you. This is my tree.” Those words had stayed with him all that time and would maybe stay with him forever.

Karima made breakfast for him. She had a black scarf on her head and eyes as still as a tree by night in spring. Absentmindedly, the Tiger slowly drank water from his glass. He took his time to set the glass down on the table and then stared at it.

“Now the water’s inside me,” he said, “and you’re empty, you fucking empty glass!”

Keep reading it on Bookanista.

Blasim also has a forthcoming novel, God 99, that follows Hassan Owl, an Iraqi who arrives in Finland as a writer and a refugee. This character “spends his days working as a veterinarian while he tries to find a way of publishing his work in the Arab world.” The book is also “filled with emails from a nameless translator of the philosopher Emil Cioran. Themselves short texts about art, disease, world literature, humanity and politics.” English rights are apparently still available.


At Prairie Schooner, they publish work by Fadwa Soleiman, translated by Marilyn Hacker, although Hacker is apparently not credited on the page. Soleiman, also an actor, died in August after a battle with cancer in Paris.

The poem, “Who Will Die Tonight?,” opens:

Who will die tonight?
we hear the voices of machine guns
not death’s footsteps
Who guides the bullet to choose who dies?
The one who fires the gun?
The bullet?
Death itself?
The one who dies?
Or you, hiding we don’t know where,
or you, who we call by name?