The latest April 2013 issue of the e-Magazine, wordswithoutborders.org is dedicated to “Writing from Iraq” – one of the three countries constituting the “Axis of Evil”, the other two being Iran and North Korea. The edition features translated versions of original…
Abd al-Khaliq al-Rikabi in his short story, The Arab Altar succinctly brings out the mental upheaval in the minds of its principal characters, in the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. The impact of national Iraqi television showing loss of lives and gory images of the battle scarred victims working on the mind of Maryam as the main protagonist, depicts the torment suffered by a newly married bride wary of motherhood. Hassan Blasim’s The Green Zone Rabbit is an absorbing short story of a war battered survivor of Iraq war, Hajjar who loses his mother and brothers to war crimes and is given refuge for medical attention by his tech-savvy uncle Salsal, supposedly living under state protection, but eventually double crossed by the state to his death in a car bomb explosion; the subtle characterization of Salsal as the rabbit and the state as the Green Zone, and the “rabbit with the egg” signifying the theme of the state’s assassination plot makes interesting reading. Salman and the Mule Suicides by Najem Ali is yet another brilliant narrative of warn torn Iraq, utilizing the grand strategy of initially using donkeys as guinea pigs for dealing with the problems of transporting weapons in heavily mined battle zones of Kurdistan, and later substituting them with mules for hilly terrains, in particular, when and until the former were virtually not left any more to be available for use – perpetrating gross mule suicides, in effect. The poetic similarities of life and death of the mules with those of the soldiers trapped in the war zone is philosophically brought out through the sensitive interaction of the chance meeting of the two principal characters of the story – an officer in the Military Veterinary Affairs Division, tasked to restore life to the mules driven on virtual suicide missions; and, a soldier by name Salman, whose fully ...
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