The aftermath of September 11th 2001, which brought about the “war on terror” and the invasion of Iraq, also led the destruction of the Iraqi state and its social structure. Authors, translators and scholars Sinan Antoon, Dunya Mikhail, Adnan Al-Sayegh, Jenny Lewis, and Haytham Bahoora meet to read from their work and discuss how Iraq in contemporary literature ‘writes back’ in the face of destruction and assaults on culture.
"The no-hair phenomenon certainly has a backstory. "
"Angels don't cook / Poetry is inedible / What will we eat today? Legends?"
"In the early morning hours of June 12, the great Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef died at his home in the village of Harefield, outside London."
"You, well of thirst,/ Black treasure in the wolf's mouth,/ Let your lamp, that speaks miracles, light the name of Iraq."
"I am a candlestick that argues about the power of darkness inside you, / in your many holes."
"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."
Blasim also has a forthcoming novel, God 99, that follows Hassan Owl, an Iraqi who arrives in Finland as a writer and a refugee.
Today marks 10 years of Comma Press. In celebration, we have five recommended reads.