In my view, there is no better word than visceral to describe Hassan Blasim’s collection of short stories The Madman of Freedom Square. They touched me and they moved me deeply. The stories tell us about the futile nature of war, about displaced people and people who stay at home. Home is in war-torn Iraq, where life is often perilous and marked by the loves, the joys and fears of everyday life. Death comes unexpectedly at home in The Market of Stories, where reading about a shoe has the same effect on me as a film scene with boots in ‚All Quiet on the Western Front‘ – and is expected to turn up at every turn in the story The Truck to Berlin. I was lucky to be able to listen to Hassan Blasim and his English translator Jonathan Wright at an English PEN event, where they introduced the writer’s latest book The Iraqi Christ. They talked about the humour of the stories – a humour that doesn’t mask the horror. Humankind in all its rich facettes – I’m looking forward to reading more by Hassan Blasim.
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A Reading in London
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