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Sinan Antoon سنان انطون

Co-Founder

The American Granddaughter (A Review)

[Cover of the English version of The American Granddaughter, image from Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation website]

Many Iraqis returned to their country after the American invasion in 2003 as members of the entourage that accompanied the invading army and helped it administer its occupation. Some of them were translators recruited by companies back in the US where they were living either as refugees, residents, or Iraqi-American citizens. Some bought into the “liberation” narrative and believed they were helping the old country get back on its feet. Others were simply in it for the ...

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They Kill Christians (Too)

[Residents carry a coffin at the funeral for Our Lady of Salvation victims. Image from unknown source]

The attack on the Sayyidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) Church in the al-Karradah district in Baghdad on October 31st was not the first on churches in Iraq in recent years. However, it’s certainly the most lethal in terms of casualties, let alone its deleterious effects on Iraq’s already damaged social space. The Islamic State of Iraq, some of whose members stormed the church and took the congregation hostage and killed some of them before being attacked in turn by ...

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Two Poems by Sargon Boulus

[Sargon Boulus. Image from Samuel Shimon]

Railroad    The glass of the subway windows is foggy. Shapes escape across it, as if from a demon, and are sorted out behind us as “bygones.”   The shrieking of the wheels on the rail. The appearance of the next station, at the bend of a tunnel full of wailing. A few vagabonds on the platform gulping alcohol from bottles hidden in paper bags.   It is the same void rising from night’s end in any city overstuffed with the living and the ...

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Three Poems by Saadi Youssef

[Image from unknown archive]

Fulfillment I used to, I often used to hope as autumn painted forests with gold walnut brown or muted crimson, I so hoped to see Iraq’s face in the morning to loosen water’s braids over me, to satisfy its mermaids with salty tears, to float over Abu l-Khaseeb’s rivulets to ask the trees: Do you, trees, know where my father’s grave is? . . . I often used to hope! Let it be . Let autumn finish its cycle. Iraq’s trees will remain naked. Iraq’s ...

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"The Corpse" by Sargon Boulus

[Sargon Boulus. Image from Samuel Shimon]

They tortured the corpse until dawn broke down and the rooster rose up in protest. They thrust nails in its flesh. They whipped it with electric cables. They dangled it from the ceiling fan.   When the torturers were finally tired and took a break, the corpse moved its little finger, opened its wounded eyes, and muttered something.   Was it asking for water? Did it perhaps ask for bread? Was it cursing them or asking for more?  

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Still at Sea: A Review of "Hope"

[Amal Basry/ Hope Press Kit]

Hope, directed by Steve Thomas. Australia, 2007. In one of his late poems, the Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) wrote of “A million refugees clinging to his footsteps.” This was not poetic hyperbole. Boulus was haunted by a visceral tragedy. The invasion and occupation of Iraq back in 2003 and the sectarian civil war that followed displaced more than 4.5 million Iraqis and forced them to leave their homes. Around 2.5 million of them were internally displaced within ...

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The Pomegranate Alone (Excerpt)

[

She was lying nude on her back on a marble bench in an open place with no walls or ceilings. There was no one around and nothing in sight except the sand, which reached all the way to the horizon where clouds crowded the sky and took turns blocking the sun before rushing to disappear. I was nude, barefoot and dumbfounded by everything I saw around me. I could feel the sand under my feet and a cool wind. I moved slowly to the bench to make sure it was she. When and why did ...

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The Forgotten War

[Iraqi Casualties. Image from unknown archive]

Selective amnesia is often deployed or manipulated to package history in a more simple and palatable narrative. The process involves major elisions to edit out any event(s) that might complicate the desired reductive and truncated narrative. One such major elision in the reigning Iraq narrative is that of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). That destructive war claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians and predetermined the lives of millions of others. It ...

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Laugh! There is a Bomb in your Car

A Scene from the Show

Ramadan is a very special time of year for Muslims and it is impossible to overestimate its socio-cultural importance. Additional time and effort are invested in its daily rituals and practices. Familial and social bonds are augmented and celebrated. Traditional games used to be an important facet of the month’s celebratory and festive mood culminating in the feast marking the month’s end. While these games are still popular and are still played in many parts of the ...

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An Open Invitation to An Occupation Masquerade

جو بايدن مع المالكي وهوشيار زيباري، وزير خارجية العراق، في بغداد

       دعوة مفتوحة إلى حفلة احتلال تنكريّة    نائب الرئيس الأمريكي جو بايدن في بغداد (ليشرف على مفاوضات تشكيل الحكومة العراقية التي قد تستغرق قرناً). ووزير الدفاع الأمريكي روبرت غيتس وصل هناك صباح اليوم في زيارة مفاجئة للمشاركة في الطقوي الاحتفالية. مساء أمس وجّه أوباما خطاباً إلى الشعب الأمريكي من مكتبه في البيت الأبيض وهو تقليد مهم في السياسة الأمريكية وهي المرة الثانية فقط التي يستخدم فيها أوباما هذا المنبر بالذات. والمناسبة هي  ...

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The Poet Lives

[Image from unknown archive-Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said]

Two years have passed since the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) died at a hospital in Texas from complication of heart surgery on August 9, 2008. His death left a considerable void in Palestine and the Arab world. He was, after all, a unique figure by any measure. By the end of his life he had been widely recognized and admired as a great world poet who left behind an oeuvre of staggering beauty and sophistication. He was the most popular and inventive Arab poet ...

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Al-Tahir Wattar (1936-2010)

Al-Tahir Wattar [private bootleg image]

Al-Tahir Wattar, one of Algeria’s most influential writers died on the 13th of August, after a two-year battle with colonic cancer. He was a foundational figure in the Arabophone novel in Algeria and widely recognized and celebrated in the Arab world. Some of his ten novels were translated into ten languages. Wattar was born to an Amazigh family in Suq Ahras, in eastern Algeria in 1936. After a traditional education, his father sent him in 1950 to Qasantina ...

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Animals React

[From Central Brevard Humane Society]

The Global Council of Concerned Pets: "Time for Animals to Act"  The struggle for animal rights has made significant strides in the last few centuries and while many of our fellow animals still suffer cruelty and slaughter at the hands of humans, many of us are also gravely concerned about human rights and believe that, as conscientious animals, we must defend the rights of humans as well. Our efforts to expose human cruelty and the various genocides ...

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Good News From Iraq

One of the New Schools in Iraq, (From Al-Jazeera.net)

Even when critical of the tragic situation in Iraq, mainstream media outlets cannot wean themselves away from the official master narrative and must slip in idiotic statements such as the one in today’s New York Times story about electricity in Iraq. Please note the second half of the title “ Electrical Grid Fails Iraqis.” So it’s the electrical grid, a neutral non-human element, which has failed Iraqis and not the superpower, which dismantled their state and replaced it ...

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A Portrait of an Iraqi Person at the End of Time

Sargon Boulos

A Portrait of an Iraqi Person at the End of Time by Sargon Boulus [Translated by Sinan Antoon]  

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Bio

Sinan Antoon سنان انطون

    

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist and translator. His poems and essays (in Arabic) have appeared in as-Safir, al-Adab, al-Akhbar, al-Hayat, Majallat al-Dirasat al-FilastiniyyaMasharef and (in English) in The Nation, Middle East Report, Al-Ahram Weekly, Banipal, Journal of Palestine Studies, The Massachusetts ReviewWorld Literature Today, Ploughshares, Washington Square Journal, Guardian, and the New York Times.

He has published two collections of poetry; Mawshur Muballal bil-Hurub (Cairo, 2003) and Laylun Wahidun fi Kull al-Mudun (One Night in All Cities) (Beirut/Baghdad: Dar al-Jamal, 2010). His novels include I`jaam (2003), which has been translated into English as I`jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody (City Lights, 2006) as well as Norwegian, German, Portuguese, and Italian, Wahdaha Shajarat al-Rumman (The Pomegranate Alone) (Beirut: al-Mu'assassa al-`Arabiyya, 2010 and al-Jamal, 2013) was translated by the author and published by Yale University Press in 2013 as The Corpse Washer and was longlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction. It won the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Literary Translation. His third novel, Ya Maryam (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2012) was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (The Arabic Booker) and was translated to English as The Baghdad Eucharist (Hoopoe, 2017) Spanish by Maria Luz Comendador and published by Turner Libros in May 2014 under the title Fragments de Bagdad. His fourth novel Fihris (Dar al-Jamal, 2016) was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and is forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2018.

His translation of Mahmoud Darwish’s last prose book In the Presence of Absence, was published by Archipelago Books in 2011 and won the 2012 National Translation Award given by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). His co-translation (with Peter Money) of a selection of Saadi Youssef's late poetry was published by Graywolf in November 2012.

His academic works include articles on Mahmoud Darwish and Sargon Boulus and a book based on his doctoral dissertation; The Poetics of the Obscene: Ibn al-Hajjaj and Sukhf (PalgraveMacmillan, 2013).

Sinan is a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Arab Studies JournalHe is an associate professor at the Gallatin School, New York University and co-founder of Jadaliyya and co-editor of its culture page. He was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin in 2016/2017. You can follow him on Twitter: @sinanantoon.

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