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The Iraqi Christ

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  622 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A soldier with the ability to predict the future finds himself blackmailed by an insurgent into the ultimate act of terror
A deviser of crosswords survives a car-bomb attack, only to discover he is now haunted by one of its victims
Fleeing a robbery, a Baghdad shopkeeper falls into a deep hole, at the bottom of which sits a djinni and the corpse of a soldier from a
...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published February 28th 2013 by Comma Press
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Richard Derus
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: A soldier with the ability to predict the future finds himself blackmailed by an insurgent into the ultimate act of terror

A deviser of crosswords survives a car-bomb attack, only to discover he is now haunted by one of its victims

Fleeing a robbery, a Baghdad shopkeeper falls into a deep hole, at the bottom of which sits a djinni and the corpse of a soldier from a completely different war

From legends of the desert to horrors of the forest, Blasims stories
...more
Bjorn
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: iraq
On a bus in Helsinki, a bearded man from the Middle East somewhere sits reading a book with Arabic lettering. After whispering amongst themselves, one of the passengers eventually works up the courage to ask him if he's reading the Quran. The presumed terrorist tries to look as friendly as he can when explains (yet again) that no, he's reading Kafka in Arabic translation.

This isn't an episode from The Iraqi Christ (though a similar one pops up), but something Blasim mentioned in a talk I saw
...more
Antonomasia
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist 2014
This is the first 2014 IFFP book which has a fascinating strangeness similar to the Best Translated Book Award listed titles. Hassan Blasim's (and I'd guess the real) Iraq is like a fictional dystopia - except it's not fictional. None of that overly familiar creeping ominousness technique as an author slowly pulls the curtain back on more invented horrors: no need for silly games here, all this is part of every day life. I've never read any modern Arabic fiction before so I'm going to sound like ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it
The short story collection The Iraqi Christ, translated by Jonathan Wright from Hassan Blasim's original, won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, forerunner of the relaunched Man Booker International. The judges citation:
Think Irvine Welsh in post-war and post-Saddam Baghdad, with the shades of Kafka and Burroughs also stalking these sad streets. Often surreal in style and savage in detail, but always planted in heart-breaking reality, these 14 stories depict a pitiless era with searing
...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The violence which permeates Blasim's short stories is reflected in their language; jarring, colloquial and awash with vituperation, Blasim's depictions of Iraq and Finland abound with a sense of loneliness and isolation, of love and loss juxtaposed with a sense of magic, with the miraclous power of fiction whereby Blasim is able to conjure lives and stories from his head, just the old lady Sarasar, grieving for her lost son, whilst being held captive by the beauty of the waters of the Nabi, is ...more
Nadia
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
What the fuck did I just read? What?

There's probably enough magic realism in this that I could justify putting it on the SFF shelf but for now I think I just need some time to process it.

Blasim's also editing an anthology of stories set in Iraq 2103 that's supposed to come out next year, I'll definitely be picking that up.
Amal El-Mohtar
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This rating reflects effectiveness and skill more than my enjoyment.

It's a harrowing collection of short fictions in which relentlessly dreadful things happen and strip people of their humanity and dignity in plain-spoken matter-of-fact ways. It's agonizing to read. But it was interesting also to feel the undercurrent of Arabic beneath the translation, and even when some of the fantasy devices seemed cliché to me, the feeling of them being spoken in Arabic, in a different context of literary
...more
Jennifer
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was a strange collection of short stories, passed off as fantasy. I guess maybe there were some fanciful things, but the subject matter and underlying themes deal with the brutality of war. I could only read this in small doses. Like one story every few months. I can only imagine what it must mean to be an author and your cannot be/or isn't published in your own country.
Liam
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An admirable collection of short stories which paints a vivid, disturbing and horrific depiction of a fragmented Iraq whose war wounds are exposed forthrightly by Blasim. At the same time many of the stories are bordering on the surreal, involving magic, mysteries and beguiling symbolism, rendering the stories extremely thought provoking and often giving them a discomforting quality for the reader. My first furrow into Iraqi literature left me intrigued, wanted more and it is a collection that ...more
Alan
Jan 09, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: short-stories
this one looks intriguing, but a bit worried by the violence in it (going by the review I read), eg: 'A Pakistani asylum seeker is conned by his fellow workers into putting his arm into a barrel of setting concrete so that they can rape him.'

Esther | lifebyesther
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc
This is a book where I was just completely and thoroughly impressed. Blasim skillfully conveys both the trauma and the absurdities of human existence in just 14 short stories. The titular story-- The Iraqi Christ--was simultaneously beautiful and absurd. The stories are beyond disturbing. Grotesque. However, they also made me, for a little while anyways, view death as salvation. I appreciate Blasim so much, and wanted to reach out and touch the world he was painting. The only thing I did not ...more
DubaiReader
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kutub-bk-grp, kindle, 2015
Short stories.

This is a series of thirteen short stories mostly based in Iraq, though a few are based in Finland, where the author now lives. After an initial reading I was left with a sense of horror and shock at the level of violence portrayed. Fortunately, this was a book group read and it certainly helped to be able to discuss the narratives with others, which gave some context to the metaphors that I had missed or misunderstood.

It's an interesting mix of stories, some have an element of
...more
Naeem
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Blasim's short stories are disturbing, difficult to understand, and hard to put down. The form of his stories perhaps tells as much about contemporary Iraq as the content. I would say that his bizarre, unpredictable, and jagged style is an acquired taste. I would compare him to Saadat Hasan Manto, who also is fearless in getting to the point. Except Manto is more lyrical and allows you inside his prose. Blasim seems almost indifferent to his reader, seeming not to care if he has provided enough. ...more
Tristan Cordelia
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have an annoying suspicion that this book is actually very good, and that I have just failed to read it carefully enough to grasp what, exactly, was the point of each story. Blasim is very overt about attempting to follow in Kafka's footsteps, essentially taking Kafka's approach to the short story and adapting it to war-torn contemporary Iraq. There were some great images in here, but I felt like none of the stories went anywhere. However, it may just be that he was being very oblique, so I ...more
Heta
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I struggled massively with The Iraqi Christ. The clear reason for that is that I do not deal well with magical realism and surrealism. There is just something about that style of writing that constantly keeps me an arm's length from the story and characters. When I feel like it's deliberate, being kept an arm's length away is not a bad thing, but with these stories I felt more as if I was failing to get to the core, that the feeling of being distant was not intended. The title story is marvelous ...more
Elen Ghulam
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Dark. Think charcoal covered with tar, served on a black plate to be eaten in the dark and you will begin to approach the starkness covered in this collection of short stories. I could only read a few pages in one sitting and considered quitting it on several occasions. I enjoyed the style of writing which is not plot driven. The author paints a portrait and then embellishes details with finer brush strokes as things progress. I confess to not understanding the story about the man who falls in a ...more
martin
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I eventually did

A migrant from one of the most unsettled, chaotic and dangerous countries of the last 50 years trying to describe that whole experience in short stories. It sounded fascinating and "worthy". It turned out to be perhaps too much for my sheltered occidental mind to deal with - rather than sharing and feeling his experiences, I found the stories alienating, confusing and depressing.

Is it worth reading? Yes, I think so. His stories do successfully
...more
Farya
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I think this is the preceding piece of Blasim's 'The Corpse Exhibition' although I read them the other way around. Many of the stories are repeated here as in the other so not worth reading both. The titular piece isa spectacular piece about a christlike suicide bomber. Hassan Blasim's style is mesmerising - the stories have so much subtext and parallel readings that they are well worth a more concerted study by anyone interested in the genres and writings from this region.
Megan Edgar
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written and translated, this book shows a side of Iraq that we do not often see in the media. Heavy use of mysticism and fantasy, but in a way that still allows the reader to learn about what life is like in the war stricken cities of Iraq, this book is not only entertaining, but gruesome (which is why I haven't given it five stars, as I am not fond of over descriptive accounts of death) and gritty and real and brings both humanity and attention to those that live in these conditions.
Kate Throp
Still havent learned that more often than not short stories just arent my cup of tea. These are very well written, and translated, but I just didnt click with them. Some Taut and often tragic, some with a touch of Borges about them and then some that just made my stomach turn. Certainly if reaction is the measure of success then this is a triumph. ...more
Nigel McFarlane
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
For me, these stories meandered rather aimlessly between magical realism and death, and often failed to reach any satisfying conclusion. Only one story - the Green Zone Rabbit - really hit the spot. Four stars for the rabbit's egg, but the rest were disappointing.
Lulu
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, bright, savage and very moving. I loved these stories.
Dafne Flego
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5
I recognize the importance of the subject matter, and I really wished to rate the book higher, but I guess I just couldn't stomach the violence... which is kind of the point?
Erik Rosengren
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: famous-works
A compilations of short stories. I enjoyed many a great deal, some I found tedious ut all in all I would say that the author deserves his reputation.
Tommie
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: iraq
Like if Bolaño and Calvino had a few drinks too many and managed to have a kid who was raised surrounded by war but on a diet that included Kafka.
cardulelia carduelis
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: home-shortstory
I picked up this book at one of Edinburghs prize Indies in 2013 but only got around to reading it 3 years later; so I went into it blind - I was actually surprised to find it a short story collection. The first story is a sound representation of the book as a whole: sharp, paced prose, punishing circumstances, a touch of magic and Iraqis that wont quit.
And yet each is incredibly unique and deals with all manner of everyday and foreign-and-domestic horror.

I wont spoil it for you but there is one
...more
Portia Sale
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how I felt about this. I don't like short stories, but that's not the authors fault.
Some of the stories were great - I wouldn't say enjoyable, because reading about the horror of a war-torn country is not especially enjoyable - but they were well written, evocative of a place, and illuminating. They painted a picture of Iraq, and the characters felt real, which is impressive for short stories.
Some of the stories I just didn't understand though. The one told from the point of view of
...more
Charlotte
I think for me this is a case of the wrong reading location. I took this away on holiday with me thinking that it was nice and short (and light for luggage!). However, I really needed to be reading this somewhere where I could concentrate properly on it, as it definitely isn't standard holiday reading. There were lots of bits I didn't fully understand, so this deserves a second reading and my rating may well go up. The sense I got of it was mystical, brutal, poetic and prosaic all at once. Each ...more
Tonymess
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Could you possibly imagine Gabriel Garcia Marquez being in Iraq? The magic realism spun into stories containing assassination attempts, decrepit hospitals, insurgents kidnapped and other Iraqi atrocities.

Hassan Blasims The Iraqi Christ contains 14 short stories set in Iraq or Finland or in some cases I dont know where (its not important). The title story itself (The Iraqi Christ) is about a soldier who can predict the future and as a result is given the nickname Christ, of course he is one of
...more
Kaarna
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, not at all what I expected. I think the quality of the short stories was quite consistent but I just liked some of them a lot more than others. One of my favourites told the story of people who could make knives vanish. There was no explanation on how this was done and all in all the story was more about the characters than the central motif. This seemed to apply to all of the stories: the most interesting and unique thing about them were the characters. That might also explain ...more
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Hassan Blasim (born 1973) is an Iraqi-born film director and writer who lives in Finland. He writes in Arabic.He is co-editor of the Arabic literary website http://www.iraqstory.com/

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