Fiction writer and poet Hassan Blasim in his new book burrows deeply into his homeland’s shattered culture. These riveting, lyrical short stories explicate the culture of war and give voice to the anguish of ordinary Iraqis. Blasim captures a surreal reality that eludes books about the war by journalists or military veterans.
Human rights activist and bard Hashem Shaabani, who was a vocal critic of “the treatment of ethnic Arabs in the province of Khuzestan,” was executed in Iran in late January after almost three years in prison, where he was reportedly tortured.
Chinese authorities demonstrated their continued disregard for free speech and human rights as they sentenced a democratic dissident to seven years in jail for sending a poem he had written and other messages over the Internet, the man’s son told reporters. The verdict cited Zhu Yufu’s online calls for a democratic political movement, the son said.
We will resist the impulse to do a cheesy riff on the lyrics of Leonard Cohen in reporting that the 76-year-old Canadian singer and poet is this year’s winner of Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias literary award.