Hassan Blasim WINS the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize!

Comma Press is proud to announce that Iraqi author Hassan Blasim’s short story collection The Iraqi Christ, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright, has won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

The award marks two important firsts – the first winner translated from the Arabic, and the first short story collection to win!

The stories in The Iraqi Christ explore the atrocities of war and sectarian violence in Blasim’s home country in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, and the trauma of exile, taking us from the streets of Baghdad to the dark forests of Finland, with a prose style that’s been compared to Kafka, Gogol, Borges and Bolaño. Many of the stories are based on his own experiences: growing up in Kirkuk and Baghdad, being persecuted under the Saddam regime, then being smuggled illegally as a refugee across Europe. IFFP Judge Boyd Tonkin said of The Iraqi Christ: 'Strung between reportage, memoir and dark fantasy, these linked stories present Iraq, post-Saddam and post-invasion, as a surrealist inferno. Bizarre horrors become everyday events. Outlandish tragedies punctuate ordinary life. Blasim's wild imagination, pitch-black comedy and fierce compassion, all captured by Jonathan Wright's pacy, pugnacious translation, keep nihilism at bay.'

For more information, have a look at the IFFP's website.

For information regarding press and rights, and to arrange interviews with Hassan Blasim or translator Jonathan Wright, contact either katie.slade@commapress.co.uk or ra.page@commapress.co.uk


'With minds, families, communities all shattered into ragged fragments by invasion, by lawless carnage and by the dictatorship that preceded them (which Blasim never forgets), these piecemeal tales both evoke a landscape of disintegration and try to rebuild meaning out of it.'

Read IFFP judge Boyd Tonkin's write up of The Iraqi Christ.

Watch an interview with Hassan minutes after being announced the winner.

Hear Hassan on Thursday 22nd May's BBC Front Row (scroll to 16:10).

Read the Guardian coverage of Hassan's win.

'It is the first time in the prize’s 24-year history that it has gone to an Arab writer and also the first time that a short story collection has been victorious.'

Coverage from The Bookseller.

Write up from The Irish Times.

'In Arabic, the fearlessness of Blasim's stories has broken new ground, leading some to ignore his playfulness and sharp scene-setting.'

Coverage from Al Jazeera.

Listen to Hassan on BBC Outlook, being interviewed about his experience as a refugee, here.