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The Iraqi Christ [Paperback]

Hassan Blasim
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Mar 2013
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Comma Press (31 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905583524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905583522
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive...' 'Bolaño-esque in its visceral exuberance, and also Borgesian in its gnomic complexity... a master of metaphor.' --The Guardian

'Blasim's vivid prose reflects the way the fantastic and the ordinary collapse into a Kafkaesque jumble during urban conflict.' --The Financial Times

'An arrestingly vivid picture of the privation and the terrors of life in Iraq.' --Herald Scotland

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
'The Iraqi Christ' is the second collection of Hassan Blasim's stories to be published in English. As with its predecessor, 'The Madman of Freedom Square', most of the fourteen stories here originally appeared in Arabic on the web. The translator once again is Jonathan Wright.

Blasim has been widely recognised as a powerful and original voice in Arabic fiction, and this book is only likely to enhance his reputation. Blasim's style is best characterised as 'Arabic gothic' - although that is to ignore the fact that since writing from the East was itself a huge influence on the 'oriental tales' of European writers from the eighteenth century on, the priority is really in Blasim's favour: he is reappropriating a native tradition. The cover carries a rare admiring acknowledgement from M. John Harrison. This isn't out of place, since both writers share the habit of making the fantastic emerge out of the banal. Comparisons have also been made with Kafka, and Blasim has acknowledged the influence: but he is far from being a mere imitator.

One difference lies in the already extraordinary nature of the Iraqi reality that Blasim transforms here; another is his fearlessness in responding to that reality by juxtaposing what are normally thought of as different modes of writing. Some of these stories veer vertiginously - in the space of ten pages - between straight reportage, supernatural fantasy and paranoid speculation with near-total abandon: this gives them a surrealist edge.

The background - Iraq and its neighbours during the last thirty years - is already one in which murder, torture, betrayal, loss of family and exile are commonplace.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing 29 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nice contemporary, intriguing stories which are provocative and intriguing. Read review in Edinburgh paper The SKinny and bought it immediately! I wasn't disappointed! By the way, a beautifully made book! Very tactile textured pages and cover, felt lovely to hold!
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0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book for a man 19 May 2013
Format:Paperback
The Iraqi Christ is more of a fiction book for a man than a woman. But having said that I gave this book to my dad to read and he could'nt get into it either. All the reviews that I have read about this book are from men. As a women I could not get into any of the stories. As a woman I am more into Family drama, Romance Chic-Lit and crime fiction psychological books. If you are in to this type of genre of books then this will be the type of book for you. The guardian states that this is perhaps the best writer of Arabic Fiction alive. Which I totally agree with.The Iraqi Christ is translated by Jonathan Wright.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important reading to understanding the Iraqi experience - but a challenge 17 Jun 2013
By Nathan Webster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a collection of short stories that I appreciated - which is different than "liked."

I preferred Hassan Blasim's first collection, The Madman of Freedom Square, and I found those stories a little more accessible to my reading tastes.

However, if a reader goes into this collection aware that Blasim's stories are NOT "O'Henry style" where you get a clear-cut, wrapped-up, easy-to-follow narrative, then you'll be in good shape. These stories are challenging, often difficult for a western reader to follow, and are often not linear narratives. If I'm sounding confused, it's because I often was. This short collection was a struggle to comprehend and I could not get through more than one story at a time. The stories made me work, with double-meanings and strange images. If you do the work, the reward is there.

And - to me, the real value in making the effort at Blasim's stories (via Jonathan Wright's translation) is having a better understanding for the Iraqi experience of the last decade and more. Only a couple of the stories directly involve the US occupation, and they provide a window into the Iraqi people that our own media and writers simply can't provide.

So I can't say I 'enjoyed' the stories like I would if I was reading Stephen King's "Night Shift." But I feel more culturally informed about the people of Iraq that were so often faceless and unreported.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great follow up 25 Aug 2013
By BronxRev - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you haven't read Madman, I'd recommend that you do. It'll also tell you if you will like Blasim's style. His writing is haunting and beautiful, if a little terse (it works, the terse language). I loved it. He uses many stories and different methods to get his point across, and some I didn't like, but some are shockingly beautiful.
check it out if you get the chance.
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