Najem Wali is an Iraqi writer and journalist. He was born in 1956 in Amara, in eastern Iraq. After graduating from high school, he began studying German literature at Baghdad University and after completing his studies in 1978, he was drafted into the army. During his military service Wali was arrested and tortured as a “dissenter” and “opponent of war”. A miracle made him come clear and he continued to serve in the army until his discharge in August 1980. Soon after his release, the Iraq-Iran War began and Wali decided to leave his country in order not to enlist. Although his name appeared on the list of citizens whose exit was forbidden, he managed to obtain an exit visa and moved to West Germany, where he continued to study German language and literature and completed a master’s degree. Wali began writing at a young age. He wrote his first story at the age of 16 and started working as a journalist in the Baghdad radio when he was a university student. His novel Tel Al-Laham was published by Carl Hanser in 2004 and by DTV in 2010 and became a best seller and a cult book in the Gulf states. He has published six more novels and three books of stories. His work has won several awards, including the Bruno Krisky Prize 2014 for a political book. Wali lives in Berlin, works as an author and as a journalist and cultural reporter for the daily Al-Hayat, Al-Maeda and The Tattoo Magazine, the three most prestigious newspapers in Iraq. Wally also writes for German newspapers such as Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, among others.
*Author’s official site.
Mortada Gzar is an Iraqi novelist, filmmaker, and visual artist. Born in Kuwait in 1982, he has an engineering degree from the University of Baghdad, and has been a participant of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has written, directed and produced a number of films that have screened at international festivals. His animation ‘Language’ won the Doha Film Award. He is the author of three novels: Broom of Paradise (2008), Sayyid Asghar Akbar (2013), and My Beautiful Cult (2016), and is a regular contributor to the Lebanese newspaper al-Safir al-Arabiandis.
Hassan Blasim is an Iraqi-born author and filmmaker, who write in Arabic. Blasim left to Finland as a refugee in 2004 after getting in trouble when making the film The Wounded Camera in the Kurdish area in northern Iraq. He lives in Finland since. His first collection of short stories, The Madman of Freedom Square, was published in English by Comma Press in 2009. It was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010. A heavily edited version of the book was published in Arabic in 2012, and was immediately banned in many Arab countries. His second collection, The Iraqi Christ , was published in English by Comma Press in 2013 and won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2014. Both collections have been translated into several languages. His latest collection, The Corpse Exhibition, was published in the US in 2014 by Penguin, nd was selected as one of the Top Ten Books of 2014 by Publishers Weekly. Blasim was described by The Guardian as “perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive.”