"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."
"You’ll find something that looks like a boulder, but it’s not—it’s cork, painted so that it resembles rock. Push it aside and go out. A few meters away you’ll find someone who’ll look after you.”
"Winter yields a Spring / Spring’s dreams are ruined by / Summer. / Summer, without farewell / cedes authority / to Autumn"
"Give her back her earrings, God / Return to her clay oven the fire / And the rain to her farms / And take away death which harvests her children."
"I am a writer of senses."
"The winters are long and dark in this country, with snow blowing in great generous gusts, while summer is shorter than a sip of tea at the side of the road."
Poetry was another thing Colla said he thought a lot about while he was writing Baghdad Central.