Hassan Blasim Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2010, 2016.


The Iraqi Christ

Comma Press

Manchester, 2013

[Ü: Jonathan Wright]

The Corpse Exhibition And Other Stories of Iraq

Penguin Books

New York, 2014

[Ü: Jonathan Wright]

Der Verrückte vom Freiheitsplatz und andere Geschichten über den Irak


München, 2015

[Ü: Hartmut Fähndrich]

Hassan Blasim [ Iraq, Finland ]

Hassan Blasim was born in Bagdad, Iraq in 1973. He spent most of his childhood in Kirkuk, and returned to the Iraqi capital to attend film school. Two short films he made there were awarded prizes. In 1998 he moved to the Kurdish part of Iraq, where he made additional films, including the feature film »The Wounded Camera«, which deals with the highly charged topic of Saddam Hussein’s forced resettlement of the Kurds following an uprising against the dictator. Fearing for his family’s safety, he released the film under the pseudonym Ouzad Osman. To avoid persecution, Blasim left Iraq in 2000 and set out for Europe. After crossing Iran mostly on foot he worked in Istanbul as an illegal immigrant to save money to pay a people smuggler to take him further west. On his fourth attempt Blasim made it to Bulgaria, where he also worked in order to finance his continuing flight westwards. In 2004 – four years after leaving his homeland – he succeeded in reaching Finland, where he was granted asylum.

Blasim made numerous short films and documentaries for Finnish television. His first stories started to appear on the website www.iraqstory.com, which he co-edited. His first short story collection »The Madman of Freedom Square«, which appeared in 2009, caused quite a stir internationally and was translated into numerous languages, winning him the Foreign Fiction Prize and the PEN Writers in Translation Award. Blasim employs scurrility, surrealism, sarcasm and grotesqueness to both crush and heighten the horror, suffering and dangers of war, terror, expulsion and flight, which dominate his prose. Many critics compare him with authors such as Gogol, Kafka, Borges, Garcia Márquez and Poe. In the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung« Maxim Biller speculated: »If Kafka had written screenplays for splatter movies, then they would have read like these fantastic and brutal tales of war, death and flight in Iraq.« The censored Arabic original version »Majnūn sāḥat ʾal-ḥurriyya« first appeared in 2012 and was immediately banned in Jordan. »al-masīḥ ʾal-ʿirāqī« (Eng. »The Iraqi Christ«), published in 2013, was Blasim’s second volume of short stories, and brought him the honor in 2014 of being the first Arab writer to win the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Currently Blasim is working on an anthology of science fiction stories by Iraqi authors who take a look at Iraq in the year 2103, one hundred years after the – for the time being – last war. The »Guardian« called Blasim »perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive«.

Hassan Blasim lives in Helsinki, Finland.