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The Reality and the Record

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The Reality and the Record by Hassan Blasim

The Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim is a refugee. He found asylum in Finland approximately a decade ago, having to flee his homeland after stirring the anger of the regime by shooting a film in the Kurdish area of Iraq. The narrator of the story presented here is also an Iraqi refugee. Once his world comes crashing down, perhaps in the most chaotic moment in which we can imagine a human being, the refugee stands before the law, and must once again tie together the facts of reality — in order to obtain asylum he must tell a story to the immigration officer at the gates of the West. Blasim chooses the moment in which the story is a matter of life and death, and in that moment the narrator sets sail on the powerful waves of literature—in which reality and imagination “merge and it becomes impossible to distinguish them.” Everything that can soar in the human spirit comes to life in the story told by the narrator—imagination and humor, dread and anxiety, longing and hope, wisdom and belief, violence. The deceptive distance between art and history demands its rightful place here, and reminds us that both are ultimately the creation of people attempting to rule their own destiny, and not of law.      

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