**LONG-LISTED FOR THE 2013 FRANK O'CONNOR INTERNATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD**
**BOOK OF THE MONTH IN THE SKINNY**
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
'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.
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.
“History is a hostage, but it will bite through the gag you tie around its mouth, bite through and still be heard.”—Operation Daniel
In a calm and serene world, one has the luxury of imagining what the future might look like.
Now try to imagine that future when your way of life has been devastated by forces beyond your control.
Iraq + 100 poses a question to Iraqi writers (those who still live in that nation, and those who have joined the worldwide diaspora): What might your home country look like in the year 2103, a century after a disastrous foreign invasion?
Using science fiction, allegory, and magical realism to challenge the perception of what it means to be “The Other”, this groundbreaking anthology edited by Hassan Blasim contains stories that are heartbreakingly surreal, and yet utterly recognizable to the human experience. Though born out of exhaustion, fear, and despair, these stories are also fueled by themes of love, family, and endurance, and woven through with a delicate thread of hope for the future.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart.
‘I wrote this book in August 1989, just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga.’ Birgit Vanderbeke
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: ‘I love this monologue. It's the first Peirene book which made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes. The author lays bare the contradictory logic of an inflexible mind. This is a poignant yet hilarious narrative with a brilliant ending.’ Meike Ziervogel
‘We are playing catch-up here with something of a contemporary European classic.’ David Mills, Sunday Times
‘The novella brilliantly renders both the power of the revolutionary moment and the uncertainty of the future it unleashes.’ Jane Yager, Times Literary Supplement
‘This is one of those books that doesn't tell us what to think, but sets us off thinking . . . Who writes this kind of nuanced work in Britain?’ Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
‘Sinister, funny and heartening, this taut novella reflects, within the microcosm of the family, the dissolution of the East German state, with an insight, economy and controlled fury that have made it a modern German classic.’ Chris Schuler, Independent
‘There is a political edge to Vanderbeke's provocative examination of patriarchal violence, and part of the power of this darkly comic tale is how well it succeeds as an allegory for political tyranny.’ Lucy Popescu, Independent on Sunday
‘Astute, darkly funny, provocative, often uncomfortable in its devastating depiction of patriarchal oppression but ultimately uplifting.’ Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post
‘An extraordinary book, the story unspooled with masterful restraint, and written with simplicity and precision.’ Francesca Segal, Standpoint
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2014
WINNER OF THE SCHLEGEL-TIECK PRIZE FOR GERMAN TRANSLATION 2014
FOYLES BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2013
From hostage-video makers in Baghdad, to human trafficking in the forests of Serbia, institutionalised paranoia in the Saddam years, to the nightmares of an exile trying to embrace a new life in Amsterdam... Blasim’s stories present an uncompromising view of the West's relationship with Iraq, spanning over twenty years and taking in everything from the Iran-Iraq War through to the Occupation, as well as offering a haunting critique of the post-war refugee experience.
Blending allegory with historical realism, and subverting readers’ expectations in an unflinching comedy of the macabre, these stories manage to be both phantasmagoric and shockingly real, light in touch yet steeped in personal nightmare. For all their despair and darkness, though, what lingers more than the haunting images of war, or the insanity of those who would benefit from it, is the spirit of defiance, the indefatigable courage of those few characters keeping faith with what remains of human intelligence.
Together these stories represent the first major literary work about the war from an Iraqi perspective.
'Perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive...'
– The Guardian, 12 Jun 10.