** WINNER OF THE ENGLISH PEN WRITERS IN TRANSLATION AWARD ****LONG-LISTED FOR THE 2013 FRANK O'CONNOR INTERNATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD** **BOOK OF THE MONTH IN THE SKINNY**
'Perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive...'
– The Guardian.
'Bolaño-esque in its visceral exuberance, and also Borgesian in its gnomic complexity... a master of metaphor.'
– The Guardian.
A soldier with the ability to predict the future finds himself blackmailed by an insurgent into the ultimate act of terror…
A deviser of crosswords survives a car-bomb attack, only to discover he is now haunted by one of its victims…
Fleeing a robbery, a Baghdad shopkeeper falls into a deep hole, at the bottom of which sits a djinni and the corpse of a soldier from a completely different war…
From legends of the desert to horrors of the forest, Blasim’s stories blend the fantastic with the everyday, the surreal with the all-too-real. Taking his cues from Kafka, his prose shines a dazzling light into the dark absurdities of Iraq’s recent past and the torments of its countless refugees. The subject of this, his second collection, is primarily trauma and the curious strategies human beings adopt to process it (including, of course, fiction). The result is a masterclass in metaphor – a new kind of story-telling, forged in the crucible of war, and just as shocking.
'At first, you receive Blasim with the kind of shocked applause you’d award a fairly transgressive stand-up. You’re quite elated. Then you stop reading it at bedtime. At his best, Blasim produces a corrosive mixture of broken lyricism, bitter irony and hyper-realism which topples into the fantastic and the quotidian in the same reading moment.'
– M John Harrison
Penguin USA edition of Hassan Blasim's selected stories titled The Corpse Exhibition launched in America Feb 2014 *Selected for the Barnes and Noble US-wide ‘Discover Great Writers’ programme, 2014* 'His stories struck me as so different from anything else I had read, not only from that part of the world but from anywhere else.' - Feature in the Wall Street Journal 'Brilliant and disturbing... bitter, furious and unforgettable.' - Wall Street Journal ‘If a short story could break the heart of a rock, this might just be the one....’ - The New York Times 'The existence of this book is reason for hope, proof of the power of storytelling.' - The Boston Globe ‘Blasim deserves a wider audience, one ready to be shocked and awed by these pitch-black fairytales.’ - The National ‘Brutal, vulgar, imaginative, and unerringly captivating...A searing, original portrait of Iraq.’ - Publishers Weekly ‘Powerful, moving and deeply descriptive.’ - Kirkus Reviews 'Blunt and gruesome.' - The Huffington Post
SINGLE STORIES NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE
The following are now available to read as single stories through Kindle: A Wolf
by Hassan Blasim
by Hassan Blasim
The Fifth Floor Window
by Hassan Blasim
Why Don't You Write a Novel?
by Hassan Blasim
by Hassan Blasim
More Praise for Hassan Blasim: 'Blasim’s vivid prose reflects the way the fantastic and the ordinary collapse into a Kafkaesque jumble during urban conflict.'
– The Financial Times. 'Blasim's tone is a resilient blend of mordancy and broken lyricism.'
- Intelligent Life 'Blasim has been called, ''the best writer of Arabic fiction alive''. It is not his identity, however, but the quality of his writing that makes his voice striking. It is deeply troubling and complex, the metaphors arresting and violent.'
– The Spectator. 'Required reading for a real taste of life in Iraq.'
- The National 'An arrestingly vivid picture of the privation and the terrors of life in Iraq.'
– Herald Scotland. 'His work never flinches from gore, sex, violence, blasphemy or misery – nor do these tropes ever feel exploitative. The rich combination of pitch-black gallows humour and fantastical flights from reality are utterly compelling – more real than anything you have read before about Iraq.'
- The Skinny 'Certainly, Blasim can write a story. But he may also have a flock of sparrows inside him, each struggling in its own direction, needing to tell its individual tale, to peck its way out into the light.'
- Egypt Independent 'He writes in a terse, unsettling but nevertheless lyrical style. There is the same queer mixture of clarity and disalignment you feel while reading Kafka’s short stories. It is the terrible clarity that comes with fear, where every particle of the street seems fresh and crisp, and it seems like these are your last impressions of the world.'
- 3:AM 'Blasim’s occupied people have their voices restored to them.'
- The Literateur 'Well-written, highly inventive, and difficult, Blasim reminded me what truly great writing can be.'
- Dead Ink Books. 'This is the most urgent writing you will read in short fiction or any other literary format this year.'
- Real Time Short Stories.
Watch Hassan read and discuss his stories
Check out Hassan Blasim's website at hassanblasim.com
Read 'The Green Zone Rabbit' from the collection on Words Without Borders
Read Hassan's story 'Don't Kill Me, I Beg You. This is My Tree' specially-commissioned for the Guardian's 'Water Stories' series here
Read a review of the Edinburgh launch at the Reel Iraq Festival in The Edinburgh Reporter RECENT BLOGS AND INTERVIEWS:
'People die in the street because of some roadside bomb and yet all everyone talks about is this beautiful, sentimental, poetic Arab language that I'm supposedly destroying. But who is writing about what it's really like, about this nightmarish, unreal violence people are experiencing?' - Hassan Blasim talks to Ben East at The National 'We need to express the disaster of our lives.' - Hassan Blasim in an interview with New Statesman 'Every year I want to come to Britain, but it’s so difficult because I am Iraqi and I need a visa. But now I have an invitation, I have my book. A British soldier, on the other hand, can go to Iraq without a visa, without an invitation and then kill people and leave. So what I say is, let us do our own democracy. ' - Hassan Blasim in New Internationalist
'I believe that the role of the writer today, whether in times of war or peace, is to not let what is going on all around us become a cheap and easy target for the media, for politicians or for our own forgetfulness. I think the fragment of “imagination” for example, contributes somehow to our understanding of the past.' - Hassan Blasim interviewed in PEN Atlas.
'I’m not interested in preserving ''the beauty of the Arabic language''.' - Hassan Blasim quoted in Arabic Literature Blog.
'I look at what has happened in Iraq and feel that I must tell this story. Because around the world, the media creates a different picture about violence in Iraq. At the same time, I don’t want to just explain the violence. I’m an artist. I enjoy playing with stories, telling one story inside another story. I want to tell the stories of what happened in Iraq in a different way. Sometimes people say my writing is shocking – it’s too much maybe – but that’s what happened.' - Hassan talks to Vicki Heath at Thresholds Short Story Forum.
NEW STATESMAN interview by Philip Maughan Read here
PEN ATLAS interview by Tasja Dorkofikis Read here.
ARAB LIT review of Newcastle reading by Sarah Irving Read here.
TANJARA review of London reading by Suzannah Tarbush Read here.
THRESHOLDS FEATURE INTERVIEW by Vicki Heath Read here. BY THE SAME AUTHOR:
**Long-Listed for the 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize**
Praise for Previous collection, The Madman of Freedom Square:
Blasim moves adeptly between surreal, internalised states of mind and ironic commentary on Islamic extremism and the American invasion... excellent.
– The Metro, 22 Oct 09.
'Blasim pitches everyday horror into something almost gothic... his taste for the surreal can be Gogol-like.' The Independent, 6 Oct 09.
'Crisp and shocking.... Too febrile and macabre to file under reportage, this cruel, funny and unsettling debut has hooks and twists that will lodge in any mind.'
– The Guardian
'The news machine has shifted its attention to Afghanistan, and Iraqis are being left to fend for themselves. Blasim's collection reminds us that anything could still happen there. Iraq's story must still be told, and we need Iraqi voices like Blasim's to tell it.'
– Intelligent Life, Nov 09.
Hassan Blasim is a poet, filmmaker and short story writer. Born in Baghdad in 1973, he studied at the city's Academy of Cinematic Arts, where two of his films ‘Gardenia’ (screenplay & director) and ‘White Clay’ (screenplay) won the Academy's Festival Award for Best Work in their respective years. In 1998 he left Baghdad for Sulaymaniya (Iraqi Kurdistan), where he continued to make films, including the feature-length drama Wounded Camera, under the pseudonym Ouazad Osman, fearing for his family back in Baghdad under the Hussein dictatorship. In 2004, he moved to Finland, where he has since made numerous short films and documentaries for Finnish television. His stories have previously been published on www.iraqstory.com and his essays on cinema have featured in Cinema Booklets (Emirates Cultural Foundation). His first short story in English appeared in Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East (Comma 2008). His first collection The Madman of Freedom Square (Comma, 2009) has been translated into five languages. This is his second book.
About the Translator
Jonathan Wright studied Arabic at Oxford University in the 1970s and has spent 18 of the past 30 years in the Arab world, mostly as a journalist with the international news agency Reuters. His first major literary translation was of Khaled el-Khamissi's best-selling book Taxi, published in English by Aflame Books in 2008.