Country 35 of 196
Project 196 is my attempt to post on a short story by an author from all of the world's 196 countries. I gave myself 196 weeks to finish the project and I have about 175 or so left. Where I can I am reading stories online so people can read along with me if they wish. A benefit for me of this is that I am discovering great new writers as I go along. As I see it now the first 100 will be easy, the second 50 a bit of work to find and the last 20 to 25 may elude me. Of course I also need to find stories translated into English. I think some small Pacific Island countries, some with populations under 100,000 may be very hard to find but that is part of the fun of the project.
The Iraqi Christ, a collection of short stories by Hassan Blasim (published by Comma Press) has been getting a good bit of notice in the book blog world. Yesterday I read and was amazed by the title story of the collection "The Iraqi Christ". I decided this would be my Project 196 story for Iraq. The story takes place within an Iraqi Army front line unit that has been together since the Invasion of Kuwait up to the USA's military folly in the country. Everybody in the unit is a Muslim but for David, who is aChristian. He seems to have a special ability to tell where the incoming missiles will hit so the other soldiers want to be around him all the time as they think he knows where it is safe. There are numerous incidents where David has suddenly moved out of an area only to have a missile strike the area he vacated. David says even though he did not respect the dictator he will not be a part of the Iraqi Army now that the Americans are occupying t country.
All of David's family, brother and sisters, aunts and uncles, have all moved to Canada and they want him to come also. He stays behind to take care of his blind, nearly deaf very old mother. I know this story can be read only by those in possession of the book but I still do not want to spoil the ending. David makes an incredible sacrifice as the story closes, I am not sure if it was a valid one or not but it one make you wonder what you would have done in his place.
I will for sure soon read and post on the whole collection. I greatly enjoyed reading this story and look forward to the full work.
Hassan Blasim is a poet, filmmaker and short story writer. Born in Baghdad in 1973, he studied at the city's Academy of Cinematic Arts, where two of his films ‘Gardenia’ (screenplay & director) and ‘White Clay’ (screenplay) won the Academy's Festival Award for Best Work in their respective years. In 1998 he left Baghdad for Sulaymaniya (Iraqi Kurdistan), where he continued to make films, including the feature-length drama Wounded Camera, under the pseudonym Ouazad Osman, fearing for his family back in Baghdad under the Hussein dictatorship. In 2004, he moved to Finland, where he has since made numerous short films and documentaries for Finnish television. His stories have previously been published on www.iraqstory.com and his essays on cinema have featured in Cinema Booklets (Emirates Cultural Foundation). His first short story in English appeared in Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East (Comma 2008). His first collectionThe Madman of Freedom Square (Comma, 2009) has been translated into five languages. This is his second book