Jabbar Yassin Hussein was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1954. After the Ba’ath party seized power again in 1968, he joined the Communist party at the age of fourteen. He was repeatedly arrested and tortured on account of his political activities, even while he was still at school. (He was, among other things, chairman of the Communist Youth of Baghdad). When the Communist party was assimilated into the Ba’ath party to form the »Patriotic National Progressive Front« he resigned. From that time onwards he was placed under constant surveillance by the régime. He enrolled at Baghdad University and worked as a journalist for a short time, but was forbidden to continue either to study or work. Instead, he wrote novels, stories, poems, and fairy tales for children. In 1976 he was arrested again, having to leave the country at short notice. He fled to France, where, alongside other exiles, he co-founded the journal »Aswat«, which was critical of Saddam Hussein.
Apart from novels and stories Jabbar Yassin Hussein writes articles for Arab and European newspapers and magazines, and translates poetry from Arabic into French. His texts mostly deal with the trauma of exile, loss of home and identity. Both home and exile are stripped of any mystique – and yet the author, by his own admission, can still not overcome either the sense of nostalgia or otherness he feels as a result of his experiences of exile.
From the early 1990s his books have been translated into French, including »Adieu, l’enfant« (1996), a deeply personal encounter with the stories and events of his childhood. Stories like »Le lecteur de Bagdad. Contes et nouvelles« (2000) and »Histoires de jour, contes de nuit« (2003) also recall his life in his home country. Also published in 2003, »Paroles d’argiles. Un Irakien en exile« is a collection of articles, commentaries and speeches on the current situation in Iraq that have been published in the Arab press.
Hussein’s texts have been translated into eight European languages. In 2004 he was awarded the prize »Autor zwischen Grenzen« by the city of Trieste. Since 1992 Hussein has been living near La Rochelle in France.
© international literature festival berlin