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Literature from the 'Axis of Evil': Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Other Enemy Nations

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  154 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Subject of a full-length segment on Morning Edition when it first appeared in hardcover, Literature from the “Axis of Evil” quickly went to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. Its publication was celebrated by authors including Azar Nafisi and Alice Walker, and the Bloomsbury Review named it a “book of the year.”

In thirty–five works of fiction and poetry, writers from c
Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by The New Press (first published September 5th 2006)
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Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who do not know anything about it, Words Without Borders is an online magazine that does an incomparable job of bringing literature from all corners of the globe to an English-reading audience. And I do mean all quarters--recent numbers have focused on Estonia, Peru, Indonesia, Tamil, Palestine (and, yes, German), literature of exile, graphic novels, and the sixth queer issue. The title of this volume at hand references the "axis of evil" that President Bush created with his habitual l ...more
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book, loaned to me by my dear friend Kim Brown, grants an unusually fresh perspective on countries we don't get to hear a lot about. I came a way with new respect and interest in our "enemy nations". There is a great mix of writers who are dissenting and those who are celebrating their governments. What you get from all of the stories and poems, more importantly, is a deeper look at the people, their history and culture interacting with political movement. One of my favorites is from North ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Definitely something everyone should read. We really have more in common than we're taught we do.
This is an incredible project, so I really hate to give it a negative review, because we need more books like it. I would love to read more literature from all of these countries! Unfortunately, having a different translator for every short story or poem means that the work has no cohesion. The introductions to each segment were also very poorly written. I've read a lot of "brief histories" of the Korean War, or summaries of American hostilities with Cuba, etc., and these were mediocre at best. ...more
Guilherme Semionato
I read only Kermani's. Such a wonderful tale.

It is available here:
Catherine Gillespie
Concerned with the fact that most Western readers are ignorant of the important and transforming effect of literature in enemy nations, and the tendency of Westerners to accept two dimensional characterizations of people from the “Axis of Evil” countries, the editors of Literature from the ‘Axis of Evil': Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Other Enemy Nations compiled a collection of essays about the literary movements in those countries and previously untranslated short stories, poems, a ...more
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty remarkable collection of short stories, poetry and short excerpts from novels written by authors from countries our government considers enemies. As the title suggests, there are works from Iran, Iraq and North Korea, but there are also pieces from Sudan,Syria, Libya, and Cuba. The prose pieces include works by both dissidents and loyalists who seem to be essentially writing state propaganda. All are quite well written, though, and generally show that there are many similarities ...more
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
I spotted this at the library when I was in the mood for short stories (and too busy for full-length novels).

Some of the stories spoke to me more than others: Hameed Nylon for its humor; On the Sacks for its miniature coming-of-age story, and A Tale of Music for its demonstration that musical appreciation is for all, even those who are oppressed and so poor that they struggle to eat two meals per day.

The language in many of the stories is a bit dry because of the translators' devotion to absolut
Feb 03, 2008 rated it liked it
The editors of this book must have had quite the quandry--they had to market it in a certain way to get it past U.S. censors but because it was marketed in such a way a lot of great potential contributors didn't want to participate. The result is kind of a random collection of stuff, but two things especially make it worth it: the three party-liner essays from North Korea and the Iraqi poem "Baghdad My Beloved" which is very depressing, in a way that reminds the reader, yes, I am unavoidably con ...more
Abby Rombalski
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History geeks who like literature
Not the most stand up and shout, "Now I understand the world!" book, but definitely a good one for perspective. The editors of this book worked to gather different short genres of literature from countries that either the USA does not allow to enter its borders, or whose home countries do not allow to leave its boundaries (Cuba, North Korea, Iran, etc.). In some countries where free speech is not a virture or a truth, it is pressing to look deep at the symbolism and inferred themes in order to f ...more
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is always hard to rate a collection. But I felt this collection did a good job collecting works from all the countries and that they were diverse enough. Some I enjoyed more than others but I appreciated the collection.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
because of my interest in middle eastern culture, i expected to enjoy the writings from this region of the world the most. however, i found the stories and poetry from cuba to be the standouts in this collection.
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used this book a second time for a class I teach called World Cultures. The editorial slant is more than a little self righteous, but deservedly so. Stories tie and bind, my students tell me. How about that?
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for good stories from non-American/British/German cultures as I was at one point, this is a great starter. It's not a few books bound together, but excerpts from many books that will give you an idea of what to search for on Amazon next time you're thinking of picking up a book.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like all story collections, there are good stories and bad stories. I loved the opportunity to read stories from other countries, but only a handful really interested me and so at times I had to remind myself I was in the middle of reading this. Still, I love the project.
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the problem with books of short stories--the ones you love are too short, the ones that are boring are too long. I liked the very first story--about the boy almost getting kicked out of school for his creative writing--quite a bit. The rest was touch and go.
Patti Digh
What better way to learn about cultural difference than by reading stories and other writing from different countries. Many of these works were translated into English for the first time for this collection. There were some remarkable images, fascinating differences in writing style, and more.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well worth tracking down. Some stories are dazzling, others less so, but this book is perhaps less about the work itself and more about the statement that it makes. I think it would have been more successful had the editors focused on fewer countries. More depth would have been very welcome.
Dec 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Alane Mason and co-editors, for publishing this brave, much-needed book. Not all the work was equally compelling to me, but several of the writers shook me right out of my assumptions about genre and convention.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
read this for book club. i think it's an important collection to read even if some of the stories are too bizarre or out of context (some are selections from novels) to be considered very good on their own. my favourites were the stories a tale of music, the fifth photograph, and the sweetest tea.
Feb 08, 2008 marked it as to-read
This caught my eye while browsing at Powell's. I don't think I've ever read literature from these countries, so it seemed like a hole to fill. I'm looking forward to it.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love that the stories are about what occurs in between war, not about War.
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book reminded me why I don't generally read "literature". Most of the excerpts seemed like pure exposition, very little plot. Not an engrossing read for me.
Melissa Cavanaugh
The "axis of evil" conceit is a little gimmicky, but it is what hooked me and I'm glad it did - an excellent collection of international modern fiction.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enlightening! Interesting!
Mar 19, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up at City Lights in San story in and I love it...
Samantha Clark
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