The winners will be celebrated at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26 in NYC.
"The author is fortunate to have found a translator totally in sympathy with his writing."
They still need books, he said, particularly, "Science, architecture, arts, humanities, literature, knowledge, and children's books."
This novel – Naqqash’s first – was published in Arabic in 1986, and draws on the author’s own life experiences. His family fled Iraq in 1951 when he was just 13. Unlike most other writers who left Baghdad’s once-thriving Jewish community for Israel, Naqqash continued to write in Arabic until his death in 2004.
In Baghdad, Jabra crafted both novels and poems, first composing in English and later shifting into Arabic.
According to the judges, the 'No Windmills in Basra' combined realism and fantasy in its often satiric depictions of war that includes stories set during "the Iraq-Iran war, the Gulf War, and the waves of extremism that engulf Iraq to this day."
"I had learned from early childhood that Mosul was a city with two springs because autumn was like a second spring."
"The book was chosen -- by popular vote -- from among the 49 debut novels and short-story collections eligible for the 2018 prize."
Blasim further said, in an interview for Barnes & Noble, that he didn’t write about Americans, and indeed “deliberately ignored stories of American soldiers, the kind that appear in Iraqi and American literature and art, either as heroes, victims, or criminals.”
The intention is "to take from historical invisibility----to memorialize and to honor-----the hundreds of academics (lecturers, professors, teachers) that were assassinated in Iraq during the US-led invasion and occupation, during the years 2003-2012."
“Really?!” the Afghani scoffed. “And would you have killed yourself if I’d told you to do that?”
The finalists will be announced October 10, with the winners announced November 14, at a National Book Awards ceremony.