the short story project

Najem Wali

Najem Wali

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.

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