The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim is a collection of 14 short stories. Ranging from a man driven mad by being stuck in a deep hole to a man forced to become a suicide-bomber to save his mother, these stories are thought-provoking and haunting.
The first major literary piece from an Iraqi point-of-view on the War shows it to us like none other. In the style of cadence writing well-known to have been used by Omar Khayyam and others, we see the War that defines modern conflict- soldiers, suicide-bombers, terrorists, and refugees. The Corpse Exhibition also includes the fantasy that is real for some: angels, sorcerers, jinni, and prophets.
The Corpse Exhibition is emotionally difficult to read, but is extremely well-written. Horrific yet humorous, awful reality-filled yet fantasy, the stories followed me even after reading them. It is a very dark book, almost gallows humor, that portray the Iraq War as it was (and still is): confusing, haunting, and filled with madmen. It is not biased, and does not condemn the war, but simply presents the new reality in the region. I believe that this book is important, and written bravely, evidenced by it being immediately banned in Jordan upon release. These stories must be heard to be understood, and will have you thinking well after putting the book down.
Hassan Blasim was born in Baghdad and was persecuted under Saddam Hussein’s regime. In 1998 he fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, where he made films and taught filmmaking under a pseudonym. A year into the Iraq War he escaped to Finland, where he is a filmmaker, poet, fiction writer, and coeditor of the Arabic literary website Iraq Story.
Translated From The Arabic By Jonathan Wright.
(Thanks To Penguin For The Review Copy, And Credit To Wikipedia For Author Photo)