Friday, 26 July 2013

Don't be fooled by the light heartedness of this extract

Sarsara mourned for her son quietly, as if a sparrow had died at the sunset hour. We buried her only son in the village cemetery and went back to our daily concerns. Sarsara looked after her son's sheep and started to live in seclusion, protected by an aura of respect. One day Sarsara went out to graze her animals in the direction of the southern pastures on the way to the desert. She loaded her tent and some provisions on her donkey and set off with twenty sheep and three dogs. This trip to the pastures would normally last three days. But Sarsara didn't come back to the village for five years.

From the story 'Sarsara's Tree'
In the collection 'The Iraqi Christ'
By Hassan Blasim
Published in English translation from the Arabic by Comma Press 2013
Translator is Jonathan Wright

There are loads of other sections I could have picked, but as the blurb says on the back: 'At first, you receive Blasim's work with the kind of shocked applause you'd award a fairly transgressive stand-up. You're quite elated. Then you stop reading it at bedtime.' This turns out to be a quote from a blog by M John Harrison, which I have found here.

There are many glimpses of his life in reading and writing strewn about in the stories. I got the earlier collection of his work from the library, but need to buy it for myself now. It is called 'The Madman of Freedom Square', also from Comma Press.

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