Publishing the World is so excited to announce our first featured work of Middle-Eastern fiction, The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by exiled Iraqi author Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright, and published in the US by Penguin Books. These provocative and hallucinatory short stories only reference Iraq’s many conflicts obliquely (the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the US invasion), but they capture the effect of generations of violence, chaos, and corruption as only literature can.
The Corpse Exhibition, Blasim’s US debut, is a selection of stories pulled from his two award-winning collections first published in the UK, The Madman of Freedom Square (Comma Press, 2009) and The Iraqi Christ (Comma Press, 2013), the first Arabic winner of the UK’s International Foreign Fiction Prize. Blasim is also a two-time winner of the PEN Writers in Translation Prize. And how could one write anything about Hassan Blasim without mentioning that The Guardian once called him “perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive”?
Magical realism would seem an apt description of these surreal and unsettling stories where perceptions of reality are multiple, where rabbits lay eggs, narrators speak from beyond the grave, and assassins exhibit their victims’ corpses as art, but Blasim declares, “It is not magical realism, it is nightmarish realism. Horrifying hallucination.”
To read more, you can check out reviews from The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and Words Without Borders. You can also read an interview with Blasim from The Lit Show.
Cars explode, women and boys are beaten and raped, bodies are inhabited by spirits, refugees tell lies, yet none of the horror is gratuitous; every story ends with a shock, and none of them falter. A searing, original portrait of Iraq and the universal fallout of war. –Publishers Weekly, starred review
He has written a fresh and disturbing book, full of sadness and humor, alive with intelligent contradiction. In keeping with Iraq’s ancient storytelling tradition, it is this willingness to embrace and even revel in irony and antagonism—the tedious and the fantastic, the poetic and the obscene—that defines his much-needed perspective on a war-ravaged country.–The Daily Beast
Subtly and powerfully evocative . . . Superbly translated. —The New York Review of Books
It is not magical realism, it is nightmarish realism. Horrifying hallucination.–Hassan Blasim