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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 April 2013
'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. The astonishing violence and inhumanity that characterise ordinary life in these stories make the passage from the everyday to the extraordinary seem logical, almost inevitable.

Nonetheless, Blasim extracts meaning and on occasion even hope from this material without falling into absurdity or the macho sentimentality of blood and violence. It's a high-wire act that constantly risks failure but succeeds brilliantly. Highly recommended to anyone interested in contemporary fiction.

140 pages, not 176 as stated.
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on 29 July 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2015
This is a series of thirteen short stories mostly based in Iraq, though a few are based in Finland, where the author now lives. After an initial reading I was left with a sense of horror and shock at the level of violence portrayed. Fortunately, this was a book group read and it certainly helped to be able to discuss the narratives with others, which gave some context to the metaphors that I had missed or misunderstood.

It's an interesting mix of stories, some have an element of magical realism, others are obviously born of a violent background. There is some generosity shown to characters, but for me it was not enough to lift the overall gloom that I was left me with.

I was hoping to find some recognisable theme linking them all, but apart from the "trauma and the curious strategies human beings adopt to process it", as advertised in the bumf, there were no obvious links other than one pair of stories centred around a compass. I did like that the author popped up in the narrative a few times, however, an interesting twist.

The ratings given by other readers were quite varied, but on the whole it was the readers from Arabic backgrounds who gave the highest ratings and those of us from the west were significantly less generous.

An interesting read but not an author I'll be in a hurry to read again.
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on 8 July 2014
I did not find this particularly enjoyable. The short stories seemed rather slight and inconsequential. I probably failed to spot the deeper meanings or literary allusions but I am sorry to say this did not come up to the expectations fostered by the enthusiastic reviews that I read.
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on 24 August 2014
Will need a second read to bring it all altogether but kept me wanting to read on, all the way through. Plenty to provoke thought and reflection if that's what you're looking for.
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on 26 June 2014
This is a highly original mind reminding me of Isaak Babel writing about the Russian civil war and admirably translated
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on 19 May 2013
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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