"A nuanced study of contemporary Iraqi fiction which touches on a rich tapestry of themes."—Al Jadid
"A crucial cultural exchange between Iraqi writers and readers of English."—Journal of Arabic Literature
"One of the most important books in 2008."—The Bloomsbury Review
"Contemporary Iraqi Fiction contains thirty-four stories by sixteen writers and succeeds in demonstrating that modern Iraqi fiction contains excellence across a range of styles."—Edinburgh Review
"Translated . . . into comfortable, modern English by Mustafa. . . . The most fanciful stories are those by women, and the most powerful narratives concern various recent wars in and around Iraq."—Choice
The first anthology of its kind in the West, Contemporary Iraqi Fiction gathers work from sixteen Iraqi writers, all translated from Arabic into English. Shedding a bright light on the rich diversity Iraqi experience, Shakir Mustafa has included selections by Iraqi women, Iraqi Jews now living in Israel, and Christians and Muslims living both in Iraq and abroad.
While each voice is distinct, they are united in writing about a homeland that has suffered under repression, censorship, war, and occupation. Many of the selections mirror these grim realities, forcing the writers to open up new narrative terrains and experiment with traditional forms. Muhammad Khodayyir’s surrealist portraits of his home city, Basra, in an excerpt from Basriyyatha and the magical realism of Mayselun Hadi’s “Calendars” both offer powerful expressions of the absurdity of everyday life. Themes range from childhood and family to war, political oppression, and interfaith relationships. Mustafa provides biographical sketches for the writers and an enlightening introduction, chronicling the evolution of Iraqi literature.
Shakir Mustafa is Teaching Professor in the World Languages Center at Northeastern University.He co-edited A Century of Irish Drama: Widening the Stage and Seventeenth-Century English Poetry: An Introductory Course.