Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shalash Al-Iraqi

Zeyad gives us some interesting stories from Shalash the Iraqi, who lives in Sadr City:
His columns first appeared on the Iraqi online opinion website Kitabat in December 2005. They were written from the perspective of an everyday Iraqi living in Sadr City - or Al-Thawra, as he calls it, using the pre-Saddam name of the district. Shalash’s style was gritty, streetwise, brutally honest but extremely humourous. He uses colloquial and slang terms in his writing, which appealed to a wide section of Iraqi readers who identified with him.

The characters of his short stories ranged from his opportunistic uncle, Haji Shnawa, who danced for both Saddam in the past and now Sadr; the former sergeant in the Iraqi army on his street who became a corrupt Sadrist cleric; Khanjar, the local troublemaker; Khadija, the young teacher that he often daydreams about her paying attention to his romantic moves; the old lady who sells groceries and campaigns for the Shi’ite electoral list; pickpockets; porters; Mahdi Army thugs; and so on.

No one is spared of his sharp criticism. He persistently jabs Iraqi governmental officials, revered clerics, insurgents, militias, Arab leaders and Americans. Even Madonna has been a subject for one of his recent stories, in which he asks her to adopt him so he can be saved from the Mahdi Army and instead become neighbours with Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz.

Translations of some of Shalash's stories follow that.

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