23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Hassan Blasim
© Hartwig Klappert

Hassan Blasim

Hassan Blasim was born in Bagdad, Iraq in 1973. He spent most of his childhood in Kirkuk but returned to the Iraqi capital to attend film school. In 1998 he moved to the Kurdish part of Iraq, where he continued making 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. Blasim eventually left Iraq in 2000; 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. Via Serbia and Hungary, he arrived in Finland and was granted asylum in 2004. He currently resides in Helsinki.
Blasim made numerous short films and documentaries for Finnish television. His first short story collection »The Madman of Freedom Square«, which appeared in 2009, caused quite a stir internationally and won 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 honour in 2014 of being the first Arab writer to win the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. »The Corpse Exhibition«, a collection of short stories set in Iraq during the war, was published in 2014. Shocking in their realism, and at the same time with fantastic elements and dark humour, they tell not only of soldiers, refugees, and terrorists, but also of angels and jinn. In 2016, Blasim published »Iraq + 100«, an anthology of science fiction narratives by Iraqi authors that examine Iraq in 2103, one hundred years after the recent war. Blasim’s latest novel, »God 99«, was published in 2019 and features the protagonist, Hassan Owl, an exiled Iraqi living in Finland as he conducts a series of interviews with people whose lives are marked by flight from war, persecution, and poverty. The »Guardian« called Blasim »perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive«.


The Iraqi Christ
Comma Press
Manchester, 2013
[Ü: Jonathan Wright]
The Corpse Exhibition And Other Stories of Iraq
New York, 2014
[Ü: Jonathan Wright]
Der Verrückte vom Freiheitsplatz und andere Geschichten über den Irak
München, 2015
[Ü: Hartmut Fähndrich]
Iraq + 100
Comma Press
Manchester, 2016
[Ü: Jonathan Wright u. a.]
God 99
Comma Press
Manchester, 2019
[Ü: Jonathan Wright]