Via & thanks to the as always excellent blog Arab Literature (in English):
This is the month, the week, the fifteen minutes that the world is grappling with and reflecting on the US-led invasion of Iraq. But it’s been more than fifteen minutes for Iraqi authors; particularly those, like Ahmed Saadawi, who are still in Iraq:
Ahmed Saadawi: A Decade of Despair (New York Times)
Saadawi, a Beirut39 laureate, writes movingly on why he stays in Iraq and how to understand this war. “What did the United States gain from spending more than $2 trillion on its war? If it had really been for oil, then why does it seem that China will profit more from developing Iraq’s lucrative oil contracts?”
“Suddenly,” he writes, “the power goes out, and everything around me switches off, except for the stream of endless questions.” (Trans. Ghenwa Hayek.)
Saadawi has published a volume of poetry, Anniversary of Bad Songs (2000) and two novels,The Beautiful Country (2004) and Indeed He Dreams or Plays or Dies (2008). He was also part of the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction Nadwa. An excerpt of Frankenstein in Baghdad appeared in the Beirut39 collection and in Banipal37.
Hassan Blassim: leave Iraq to its freedom (New Internationalist)
Blasim, a short-story writer, filmmaker, and playwright, has a new collection out in English (trans. Jonathan Wright), The Iraqi Christ. He said:
“Please help us and ask your government to leave us alone to our freedom and our democracy. We must build the country. Through history we’ve always had these people – all the time we want to change our culture and make a revolution from inside, and all the time there’s a problem because we are not alone. We fight not just the dictator or some radical Muslim. The West is playing with our country.”
“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. Of course, it’s not going to be the same, it won’t be a copy of the democracy in Britain or the US.”
Saeed, a novelist who wrote the celebrated Saddam City, among many others, talks about the Iraqis who are living in the US: “In Iraq, especially before 2003, even if you are from another sect you can make relations, you can make a friendship. The Shia people married the Sunni sect. The Sunni married Shia. Even there is some marriages between Christians and Muslims. But this, here, you cannot find it.”
Dunya Mikhail: On NPRIf you’re in the US, Mikhail has an interview with Renee Montagne that will be aired today on NPR’s Morning Edition.