A Conversation with Hassan Blasim

29 Mar 2021 - 4.00PM

FREE EVENT - register on Eventbrite here.

Monday 29th March 2021

4pm (BST)


Join Maynooth University for a conversation with writer Hassan Blasim, hosted by Dr. Rita Sakr and Reema Hassan from the University's English Department).

Hassan Blasim is an Iraqi writer currently based in Finland. Born in Baghdad in 1973, he studied at the city’s Academy of Cinematic Arts, where two of his films ‘Gardenia’ and ‘White Clay’ won the Academy’s Festival Award for Best Work. In 1998, after several arrests triggered by the overtly political nature of his films, he fled Baghdad initially to Sulaymaniya (Iraqi Kurdistan), where he made the feature-length drama Wounded Camera, under a Kurdish pseudonym, and ultimately in 2004, after years of travelling illegally through Europe, he settled as a refugee in Finland where he is now a citizen. 

Hassan has been described as “perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive” and his stories as “brilliant and disturbing... bitter, furious and unforgettable”.

His stories first appeared online, on the website iraqstory.com, which he co-edited, then in print, first with the anthology Madinah (commissioned by Comma Press in 2008). His debut collection The Madman of Freedom Square was published in 2009 (translated by Jonathan Wright like his subsequent works) and was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010. His second collection, The Iraqi Christ, was published in 2013, and won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize –the first Arabic title and the first short story collection ever to win the prestigious award. In 2017, he edited the collection Iraq + 100, described as “a game-changing giant leap for Iraqi futurism”, its stories ranging from science fiction to new forms of magic realism.

Hassan’s work has been translated (or is in the process of being translated) into over 20 languages. 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 selected as one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Books of 2014. In 2016, his play The Digital Hats Game was launched in Helsinki.

Hassan’s debut novel, God 99 (November 2020) was described by The Irish Times as “sprawling and breathtaking, stuffed with cultural and literary references, this is a dazzling work of imagination and ur-reality”.

Attendees will receive the Zoom link one day and again one hour before the event.