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Hassan Blasim

Hassan Blasim is a poet, filmmaker, and short-story writer. Born in Baghdad in 1973, he spent most of his childhood in Kirkuk, before moving back to Baghdad to study at the city's Academy of Cinematic Arts. There he made two short films—Gardenia (screenplay & director) and White Clay (screenplay)­—which won the Academy's Festival Award for Best Work in consecutive 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 the safety of his family back in Baghdad under the Hussein dictatorship. In 1999 he left Iraq, and traveled as an illegal immigrant through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Hungary, before eventually settling in Finland in 2004. Since then he has made numerous short films and documentaries for Finnish television, and co-founded the Web site His essays on cinema have previously been published in Cinema Booklets (Emirates Cultural Foundation). After writing a story for Comma’s anthology Madinah in 2008, he was commissioned to write a full collection of shorts, The Madman of Freedom Square, which was translated by Jonathan Wright and published in English by Comma Press in 2009. Madman was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010 and won an English PEN Writers in Translation Award. It has since been translated into six other languages. A heavily edited version of the book in the original Arabic was finally published in 2012, and immediately banned in Jordan. His second collection, The Iraqi Christ (translated by Jonathan Wright), is due out in the UK in March, and also won the English PEN Writers in Translation Award. An American edition of Hassan’s work—titled The Corpse Exhibition—is due out from Penguin USA next year. Hassan was recently described by The Guardian newspaper as “perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive.”

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