Review of Shiva Rahbaran’s invaluable book of interviews, Iranian Cinema Uncensored, in Wasafiri’s summer issue 2018. Available for sale on the Wasafiri website.
“Amjad Nasser’s Land of No Rain begins with a beautiful sentence: ‘Here you are then, going back, the man who changed his name to escape the consequences of what he’d done.’ The themes of exile and return and the concept of identity are announced from the very start. The sentence is also notable for its particular rhythm, a slow enchanting movement which continues throughout the novel.
In a complex structure, we see Adham Jaber/Younis al-Khattat, a dissident who left the fictitious country of Hamiya twenty years before, returning as a dying man. Hamiya may well be based on Jordan, where Nasser comes from, and the city of Red and Grey probably stands for London, where he now lives. The use of these fictional names gives the novel an allegorical feel…”
Adnan’s Mahmutović’s How to Fare Well and Stay Fair and Tadeusz Różewicz’s Mother Departs are books by two Eastern European writers at opposite ends of their careers.
Mahmutović is a young writer, born in 1974, who moved to Sweden in 1993 as a refugee from the Bosnian war. His short story collection is predominantly concerned with home, or rather the homelessness of refugees and their unsettled identity. This concept permeates the collection yet is treated with level-headed subtlety. Mahmutović excels at getting his ideas across by involving the reader in the daily lives of his characters.
The title story gives us a darkly ironic overview of the experiences of a refugee. Set like a ‘how to’ guide, it takes us through the lives of people who fled Bosnia. It covers everything from the horrible to the routine. (…)