The Iraq War is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down — for Americans, at least. As we struggle to understand these wars, we often turn to literature. So far, however, most of the stories and novels about Iraq and Afghanistan have been about Americans. We have yet to hear from the Iraqis and Afghans who live with the consequences of a decade of war. We have yet to reckon with what these wars meant for the people who lived through them. Labyrinth, Princeton's Lewis Center, and the OMI International Arts Center invite you to an evening of readings and conversation dedicated to this reckoning.
These readings seek to open up a conversation between the Iraqi point of view, represented by Hassan Blasim, author of The Corpse Exhibition, the Afghan point of view, represented by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s book about the war in Afghanistan,The Watch, and the point of view of American soldiers, represented by Roy Scranton’s edited collection Fire and Forget.
Hassan Blasim’s The Corpse Exhibition offers the first major literary work by an Iraqi writer in English, whom The Guardian calls "perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive." He 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. His previous books in English are The Iraqi Christ and The Madam of Freedom Square. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's novel The Watch , a retelling of Sophocles' Antigone set in Afghanistan, has been nominated for the International IMPAC Prize, shortlisted for the
Criticos Prize (UK) and the Boeke Prize (S. Africa), longlisted for the DSC South Asian Prize in Fiction, and selected as one of the ten best novels of 2012 and ten best contemporary war novels by PublishersWeekly. His previous novels are The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh. Roy Scranton's edited collection Fire and Forget brings together fiction by fourteen American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and one military spouse.He is a PhD candidate in the English Department at Princeton University. His poems and essays have been published in Boston Review, the New York Times, LIT, The Massachusetts Review, Theory & Event, and elsewhere. He was an artilleryman in the US Army from 2002 to 2006, and served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, spent nearly two
decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East,
Africa and the Balkans. He was part of The New York Times team that won
the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He
writes a weekly original column for Truthdig, and has written for
Harper's magazine, The New Statesman, the New York Review of Books, The
Nation, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. He
is the author of the bestsellers Death of the Liberal Class, Empire of
Illusion, and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, among others.