Recommended Reading: Novelist Hadiya Hussein on 5 Iraqi Books

By Hadiya Hussein

Translated by Shakir Mustafa

My reading recommendations:

1. The World Minus One (ألعالم ناقصاً واحد) by Maysaloun Hadi. Despite the brevity of the novel, it is full of details about the loss of a son who was a military pilot, wherein the author recounts the emotions of the mother and father upon hearing the news, and what happened to this pilot during the war. It is a story of irreparable loss.

Also, 2. Why Do You Detest Remarque (لماذا تكرهين ريمارك) by Muhammed Alwan Jabor. I like the cinematic cuts that take us from scene to scene; it is a novel that mixes love and war, where they coexist side by side. It shows how love can emerge amidst the rubble of war, between the dreams that collide with fragmented reality.

3. Had the Fortune-Teller Informed Me (لو أنبأني العراف), a volume of poems by the outstanding Iraqi poet, Lamia Abbas Amara; poetry as finely wrought as its author, who was my high-school teacher. A poet with a unique style.

4The Obelisks (ألمسلات), a set of fictional texts by Abdul-Sattar Al-Baythani. A terrifying seven tales of war, seven monuments to the pain we suffered during war, based on the writer’s lived experiences.

And finally, 5. Birth of a Crow (مولد غراب) by Warid Bard Al-Salim. The setting of this fantasy tale is a few bamboo colonies in the marshes of Southern Iraq. Based on the memories of the ancestors and the myths they carried, this is a novel highly charged with anxieties and expectations.

Also read:

A Conversation with Hadiya Hussein and Barbara Romaine about ‘Waiting for the Past’

Two excerpts from the novel: on Asymptote and on ArabLit.