Buy The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright HERE
Check out the other books in the 12 Days of Comma Sale HERE – discounted prices last until the Sunday 18th December so get you orders in while stocks last and we’ll get them to you in time to have them under the tree!
What is it?
The Madman of Freedom Square is a single author collection by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim. Hassan’s stories first appeared on the website iraqstory.com, which he co-edited, and then first in print, with the anthology Madinah (commissioned by Comma Press in 2008). His debut collection The Madman of Freedom Square was published by Comma a year later, 2009 (translated by Jonathan Wright) and was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010. His second collection, The Iraqi Christ (again translated by Jonathan Wright) was published by Comma in April 2013, and won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize – the first Arabic title and the first short story collection ever to win the award.
Hassan’s work has been translated (or is in the process of being translated) into over 20 languages. A heavily censored Arabic edition of Madman was finally published in 2012 and was immediately banned in Jordan. A selection of stories from both of his two collections were published in the US in 2014, by Penguin USA, under the title ‘The Corpse Exhibition’, which was later picked as one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Books of 2014.
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 in Madman 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 the stories in this trailblazing collection represent the first major literary work about the war from an Iraqi perspective.
Why this book?
This is the collection that started it all, and launched Hassan into the stratosphere with both his collections garnering awards and glowing reviews since the publication of Madman and to this day.
Moreover, with all the conflict and suffering going on in Iraq right now, books from writers like Hassan Blasim could not be more important in getting an Iraqi perspective on events that English readers can read for themselves, and not get it secondhand in a newspaper. From Madman to Iraqi Christ and the recently published Iraq + 100, Comma have published a number of stories in English translated from the Arabic in order for Westerners to experience the upheaval in Iraq through the eyes of Iraqis themselves.
If you’d like a taster of what this collection has to offer, you can listen to a reading of The Reality and the Record on MacGuffin.
Who should you buy this for?
A feature in The Wall Street Journal at the time said of Hassan’s collection – “His stories struck me as so different from anything else I had read, not only from that part of the world but from anywhere else.” With that in mind, this is not just a collection for those curious about Iraqi literature, but for those who want to read stories unlike anything they have read before, translated or not, and be deeply struck by an honest and original portrayal of Iraqi life.
Buy the anthology for only £6 HERE, discounted price ends 18/12/16.