Hassan Blasim

Photo of Hassan Blasim

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). This is is his first book.

Titles by Hassan Blasim

The Madman of Freedom Square cover image

The Madman of Freedom Square

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.

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  • ISBN 978190558325
  • Publisher Comma Press
  • Genre Short Fiction
  • Extent 120pp

The Iraqi Christ cover image

The Iraqi Christ

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.

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

'Required reading for a real taste of life in Iraq.'
- The National

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

'His work never flinches from gore, sex, violence, blasphemy or misery – nor do these tropes ever feel exploitative. The rich combination of pitch-black gallows humour and fantastical flights from reality are utterly compelling – more real than anything you have read before about Iraq.'
- The Skinny

'Certainly, Blasim can write a story. But he may also have a flock of sparrows inside him, each struggling in its own direction, needing to tell its individual tale, to peck its way out into the light.'
- Egypt Independent

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  • ISBN 978-190558352
  • Publisher Comma Press
  • Genre Short Fiction
  • Extent 186pp

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