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The covers of the six books featured in the Watchlist: Buland Al-Haidari and Modern Iraqi Poetry,...
The Watchlist: May 2023
By Tobias Carroll
Tobias Carroll recommends new fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from Argentina, Germany, Iraq, Italy, and South Korea.
An incomplete drawing of an elephant. Only the head and trunk are fully filled in.
"Elephant and Rider," attributed to Hashim, circa 1640. Public domain. The Met Museum, Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2010.
Naima’s Elephant
By Shalash
Nuwayra, despite the precision of her intelligence reports, did not advance a satisfactory explanation for how Naima acquired this elephant.
Translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren
an image of an old TV that is turned off
Photo by PJ Gal-Szabo on Unsplash
Local News
By Karosh Taha
The German language felt like a conspiracy against my father.
Translated from German by Grashina Gabelmann
The covers of the ten books featured in the gift guide
Your 2022 Holiday Gift Guide to Reading in Translation
By Isabella Corletto
Ten recent books in translation that the readers in your life are sure to enjoy this holiday season.
Late evening view on a bridge leading to Dutch countryside houses
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash
Welcome to the Real Holland
By Rodaan Al Galidi
When they chucked me out in the middle of the goddamn winter, you gave me your coat and seven euros.
Translated from Dutch by Jonathan Reeder
Various wooden letter blocks
Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
9 Writers to Read on International Mother Language Day
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
We highlight 9 writers working in their heritage languages, from Galician and Cebuano to Guaraní and Kaaps.
An International Menagerie: Animal Stories
By Susan Harris
Some of the animals here possess the power of speech, deploying it to often subversive ends.
Portrait of writer Sinan Antoon
Photo © Koutaiba al-Janabi
The City and the Writer: In Baghdad with Sinan Antoon
By Nathalie Handal
I don’t live (t)here, but it lives in me still.
The Book of Stupid People
By Ibn al-Jawzī
I shall tell you about one of the nitwits.
Translated from Arabic by Emily Jane Selove
Beyond Queer: The Queer Issue
By Susan Harris
The contributors to our Queer issues produce narratives that elude facile compartmentalization.
While He Was Sitting There
By Mortada Gzar
He’s the third white soldier I’ve met this month.
Translated from Arabic by Claire C. Jacobson
The Hundred-Hour War
By David B. & Jean-Pierre Filiu
In April 1991, Saddam Hussein took back control of his country in its entirety.
Translated by Edward Gauvin
“It’s Us and Them”: Writing from and about Divided Countries
By Susan Harris
In the current environment of relentless political strife . . . debate deteriorates into name-calling; partisans morph into zealots, complex issues are reduced to binary terms, and hostility seethes just beneath the surface.
The Collapse of a Cellar
By Nawzat Shamdeen
“They shoot them right outside their front door and then send their folks a bill for the bullets.”
Translated from Arabic by Alice Guthrie
Mass Grave
By Faleeha Hassan
Our hands could not grip anything as long as their hands gripped our lives.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
Exiled in Europe: An Interview with Three Women Writers
By Olivia Snaije
“Sometimes I feel like I’m a medium who brings ghosts back from the past.”
Chicago: Present-Day Paradise, Future Magic
By Mahmoud Saeed
The Iraqi love of water has inspired me to learn about the rivers of every city I visit.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
My Body
By Manal Al-Sheikh
The wearied ships land in its eyes
Translated from Arabic by Angham A. Abdullah
By Manal Al-Sheikh
One day there will be no men
Translated from Arabic by Angham A. Abdullah
Poets of Protest
By Words Without Borders
Words Without Borders introduces Manal Al-Sheikh and Mazen Maarouf, two poets living in exile in Scandinavia.
The Beginnings of Ja’far-i-Magholi and Hasan Tofan
By Bakhtiyar Ali
If one day you become a murderer, don't try to find out much about your victims.
Translated from Kurdish by Kareem Abdulrahman
By Abdulla Pashew
I will make my skin your flag.
Translated from Kurdish by Hemn Bakr & Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse
The Poetry of Truth: An Interview with Abdulla Pashew
By Ziad Rashad
With the process of democratization the role of poetry has been curtailed.
Translated from Kurdish by Dina Dara Omer Meran & Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse
Separation from Earth
By Kajal Ahmad
My hair / Became a belt around the Earth’s waist.
Translated from Kurdish by Darya Ali
Sudden Sorrow
By Hama Jaza
Sorrow becomes my guest, in the square frame of my room
Translated from Kurdish by Hakar Dlshad
Painting the Occupation
By Paweł Smoleński
They locked him up for being a Kurd.
Translated from Polish by Sean Gasper Bye
If You See Fatima
By Jamal Khambar
Say, after her death, we lit our epic poems on fire.
Translated from Kurdish by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse & Soran Azad
The Sad Portuguese
By Najem Wali
At that exact moment, more than sixty jets flew overhead.
Translated from Arabic by Peter Theroux
Beyond the Trauma of War: Iraqi Literature Today
By Yasmeen Hanoosh
The prolonged experience of war still dominates Iraqi articulations of self and place.
The Green Zone Rabbit
By Hassan Blasim
Wasn’t it your bloody rabbit that laid the egg?
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright
Salman and the Mule Suicides
By Najem Wali
Mules in this country had become conscientious objectors.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
Be Quiet, Soldiers
By Ali Bader
There’s no glory or holy symbolism in dying during warfare.
Translated from Arabic by Amir Moosavi
A Portal in Space
By Mahmoud Saeed
They were almost at Anwar’s house when the third bomb fell.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
The One-Eyed TV
By Muhsin al-Ramli
This is how our village acquired its own Rambo and Tarzan.
Translated from Arabic by Yasmeen Hanoosh
By Luay Hamza Abbas
He lies silently and calmly in the hole, waiting for it to be filled in.
Translated from Arabic by Yasmeen Hanoosh
Music in a Baghdad Alley
By Sargon Boulus
If you wish to sleep with me / In her dirt-filled arms
Translated from Arabic by Sinan Antoon
In Saadi Shirazi’s Garden (When He Was a Prisoner)
By Sargon Boulus
With my lips I can read / better than a blind man
Translated from Arabic by Sinan Antoon
The Arab Altar
By Abd al-Khaliq al-Rikabi
She exploded, “So why isn’t she pregnant yet?
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
The Last Six Days of Baghdad
By Mustapha Benfodil
They know that if they enter the city, we’ll eat them alive.
Translated from French by Lulu Norman
The Mulberry Tree
By Salima Saleh
Muhammad had returned from the dead, resurrected from the bones that had sunk in the well.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
A Vacation in Basra
By Mariusz Zawadzki
I have forged papers saying I am an aid worker.
Translated from Polish by Sean Gasper Bye
A Butterfly in New York
By Sinan Antoon
Its wings two leaves / falling from heaven
Translated from Arabic by the author
Your Body Journeyed Off
By Duna Ghali
Your body becomes my carry-on bag.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
from “Kumait”
By Najem Wali
After reading Crime and Punishment when he was a student he had contemplated killing Umm Husayn.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
From “Dreaming of Baghdad”
By Haifa Zangana
He was arrested at the age of seventeen, released five years later, and executed when he was twenty-four.
Translated from Arabic by the author
The Psychiatrist
By Duna Ghali
My new position gave me contact with refugees from various communities in Copenhagen.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
From “Cell Block Five”
By Fadhil al-Azzawi
It took me some long months to realize that I was incarcerated.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
By Salah Al-Hamdani
Baghdad / I will divest you of your morgue
Translated from French by C. Dickson
Death of a Swan
By Sherko Fatah
The holiday isolated the four friends, who had been thrown together, more than any ordinary day.
Translated from German by Martin Chalmers
The Scent of Berries
By Fawzi Karim
Or do we all, Baghdad, / belong to the executioner?
Translated from Arabic by Rebecca C. Johnson
Reader in the Dark
By Fawzi Karim
That the book that you were reading at your chair / is now opened again in the darkness
Translated from Arabic by Rebecca C. Johnson
The Black Storyteller
By Najem Wali
I remember that in 1967, when I was a child, only five years old, I told her about my fear-a strange thing; I don't know where it came from.
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Hameed Nylon
By Fadhil al-Azzawi
He told her, This amulet will set on fire any devil that dares approach you.
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
Edward and the First Geography Lesson
By Najem Wali
Now we begin the journey. Don't be shocked by the job I charge you with.
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Iraq Stories
By Najem Wali
They are simple stories, most of which have nothing to do with blood or death or disappearance or mass graves. Rather they are gaunt like a body exhausted by disease, and describe the general situation in Iraq.
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Nonmilitary Statements
By Dunya Mikhail
I thank everyone I don't love.
Translated from Arabic by Elizabeth Ann Winslow
Basra Stories
By Najem Wali
I was born in Basra many times, in all of the stories that I heard about it-in the stories which were told around me when I was a child, in the images I formed of it during my first trips there with my…
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Five Crosses
By Saadi Youssef
We stopped in five stations and did not leave a souvenir.We did not shiver there, or get drunk, or strum a guitar.Five rivers of sand on the guitar.Five crosses made of silence:You are sad;I wipe the…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
A Shiver
By Saadi Youssef
Hold me, comfort meThe stones are nothing but pain tonightHold me to your breastso that I ramble:The stars are gray as ashand the road to themis ablaze with light.1993
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
The Jazz Corner
A moment after midnightevery nightjazz begins to soak the Jazz Cornerlike new winelike village wineA moment after midnightevery nighta woman descends a dark staircaseto sing Brazilor balconies in candlelightor…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa