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April 2013

Iraq, Ten Years Later

Image: Jamal Penjweny, "Iraq- Falwja" (detail) 2009

As part of our tenth-anniversary year, we are returning to the “Axis of Evil,” Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the subjects of our first three issues. We begin with Iraq, which has just passed its own ten-year milestone, one of bloody conflict and deadly political strife rather than fiction and poetry. From the Green Zone to a tiny mountain village, in battlefield chaos and domestic upheaval, Luay Hamza Abbas, Abd al-Khaliq al-Rikabi, Muhsin al-Ramli, Sinan Antoon, Ali Bader, Hassan Blasim, Sargon Boulus, Duna Ghali, Mahmoud Saeed, Salima Saleh, and Najem Wali record not only the decade of war but its effects on the home front. In our special section, we present reportage from Iraq by Algeria's Mustapha Benfodil and Poland's Mariusz Zawadzki. This issue is funded in part by a private foundation.


Beyond the Trauma of War: Iraqi Literature Today

The prolonged experience of war still dominates Iraqi articulations of self and place.

The Green Zone Rabbit

Wasn’t it your bloody rabbit that laid the egg?

Salman and the Mule Suicides

Mules in this country had become conscientious objectors.

Be Quiet, Soldiers

There’s no glory or holy symbolism in dying during warfare.


A Portal in Space

They were almost at Anwar’s house when the third bomb fell.


The One-Eyed TV

This is how our village acquired its own Rambo and Tarzan.



He lies silently and calmly in the hole, waiting for it to be filled in.


Music in a Baghdad Alley

If you wish to sleep with me / In her dirt-filled arms

In Saadi Shirazi’s Garden (When He Was a Prisoner)

With my lips I can read / better than a blind man

The Arab Altar

She exploded, “So why isn’t she pregnant yet?"

A Butterfly in New York

Its wings two leaves / falling from heaven

The Mulberry Tree

Muhammad had returned from the dead, resurrected from the bones that had sunk in the well.

Your Body Journeyed Off

Your body becomes my carry-on bag.


Book Reviews

Amélie Nothomb’s “Life Form”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

For her nineteenth book, "Life Form," Nothomb has applied her preternaturally original mind to two favorite subjects—writing and “superhunger”

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