One thing is bothering me. The narrator’s diction is quite high—a working-class girl from Detroit says, “I pulled into the spacious parking lot in front of Wal-Mart….” Fine. Something has elevated this character, putting her outside of ordinary American speech. I haven’t read so far that I can see the full effects, but I can appreciate the decision.Continue Reading

Yet Iraqi literature continues, somehow, to blossom. There are older writers Fadhil al-Azzawi and Muhammad Khudayyir still at work (although the former in exile), and much younger ones, too: Thirtysomething Iraqi Hassan Blassim has been called “perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive.”Continue Reading