"The word eib rings in my head, it is eib to love, to sing, to get sick, to divorce, to show your emotions...and.…and. I felt these social chains were burdening me with fear, despair, and confusion, and I almost abandoned work on the book, but when I looked at the materials that I had collected, I knew that if I didn’t publish it now, it would never be published.”
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"That day, Ali Salman went to watch the first public execution in al-Thawra City."
"In this first week, we focus on work by novelist Abdullah al-Sakhi, who was born in 1951, left Iraq in 1979, and published his first novel looking at Iraq's internal migrants, Behind the Dam, in 2008."
"I am a candlestick that argues about the power of darkness inside you, / in your many holes."
"In nature, some plants love to bathe in sunlight, others thrive in the dark, but nothing can grow on quicksand, and that’s exactly where many of us writers are desperately trying to sow their creative seeds."
"The arselongness of the text made me think about how the traceurs keep plunging forwards all the time, almost like just past their tipping point, foolhardily hopping over things, dashing and ploughing into walls. Parkour is also often practised in urban places that smell of piss and fast-food and where you need to watch out you don't step on broken glass or used condoms."
The comparison is both oddly specific and also strangely unhelpful: Blasim is “Iraq’s Irvine Welsh.” Yes, yes, Irvine Welsh is a name I should instantly recognize. But to be honest, I had forgotten why. Irvine, my brain said. Irvine, California? Worse, my brain had linked the name "Irvine Welsh" to novels and screenplays by the American writer Peter Hedges.
"It is important to note that the state marketed the novels it sponsored (including the novels of Saddam) as belonging to Arab 'resistance literature'; a corpus of works with a long tradition of anti-imperialist struggle in the Arab world."
"Poetry brought a certain degree of cultural legitimacy to politicians, who simultaneously cultivated the support of prominent poets and feared the repercussions of their failure to do so."
"There are silent voices inside me. / I will free them now / I will free also / The letters of love words / Suffocated in my mouth."
"I was not sure about how good or bad of an idea it was to publish my book (the Arabic original at least) during this pandemic time, but I thought: What about the babies who will be delivered now? I know timing a book is easier than timing a life, but we can never guarantee what happens later; there’s always risk no matter what we do."