“When I decided to study the translations of Sayyab’s poetry, I was shocked when I found that there’s just one book in English about the pioneer of modern Arabic poetry!”
“Yes, the Americans taught Iraqis how to dip—and the Iraqis taught Americans how to drink sweet tea in thin, transparent demi glasses.”
“If I hear another description of veiled faces and intense eyes…”
“It’s publication day for Muhsin al-Ramli’s The President’s Gardens, and translator Luke Leafgren has offered to share one of his copies with an interested ArabLit reader.”
“On one recent afternoon, al-Moussawi drove to an upscale neighborhood and parked at a mall near the University of Baghdad. There the clientele was mainly students, so he put out textbooks, novels and poetry in different languages, and celebrity biographies.”
Iraqi novelist Mortada Gzar — contributor to the recent collection Iraq + 100, participant in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and author of the acclaimed Mr. Azger Akbar (2013) — writes, in his latest novel, about a man who supervised the animals belonging to a son of Saddam Hussein.
“All the events described in this novel were either directly experienced by the author or related to him by others. He assures us they are all real.”
Next month will mark the tenth anniversary of the bombing of Baghdad’s al-Mutanabbi Street, the city’s historic bookselling corridor.
The furniture too corresponds with the wood,
the way distant sons write to their mothers
Only the tree whose child they’ve carved into a coffin,
does not receive any mail.
“I strongly doubt that there is an “internal” literature or an “external” literature. If there are writers here working from the heart of the swamps, that doesn’t mean writers abroad are working from within an ivory tower, even if each certainly brings different experiences to their work.”
In the end, the author gives us two possible endings. Do we choose to save Wadoud and send him outside Iraq to have a new life and a new chance outside Iraq, where he will publish his index? Or will Namir publish the index after Wadoud’s life ends?
In this essay, Afrah said that “freedom of expression” was the phrase most frequently used by Iraqi politicians post-2003, “yet our lives, we journalists, are risked every time we criticize any head, even if it were the head of onion.”