VIDC congratulates the winner
Friday, 14 November, 19 - 21
Hauptbücherei Wien - Am Gürtel, Veranstaltungssaal
Urban-Loritz-Platz 2a, 1070 Vienna
Reading and talk with
Najem Wali, author and journalist, Iraq/Germany
Chair: Michael Fanizadeh, VIDC
Opening: Pia Bodenseher, Hauptbücherei Wien
An enthralling novel from German-Iraqi story-teller Najem Wali; after the US Army’s invasion of Iraq an American contacts the narrator in Bagdad. What is the man looking for in the most dangerous part of the city? In this book about friendship, treason, and guilt, Najem Wali reveals how easily history repeats itself. The story arc spans from the 1980s and the Iran-Iraq War to the year 2011, when, after the Gulf War and the 2003 US-invasion, former US-Officer Daniel Brooks returns to Iraq in order to deliver a notebook to the narrator, which a friend of his had lost on the Kuwait-Iraq front. In this notebook the friend had written about his comrades’ dreams for their lives after the war.
Najem Wali draws a morbid picture of Iraq and a generation that in the past 30 years has experienced more war than peace: “In diesem Land musste ich wählen zwischen der Rolle des Mörders und der des Ermordeten. (…) Ich machte mir klar, dass ich alles sein könnte, bloß kein Mörder, und dass ich, um der letzteren Rolle, der des Ermordeten, die man für mich vorgesehen hatte, zu entkommen, weggehen musste“ [In this country I had to choose between the roll of murderer or murder victim. (…) I made it clear to myself that I could be anything, except a murderer, and that in order to escape the last role—that of the murder victim, which had been planned for me—I had to leave."
The author was born in 1956 in Basra, Iraq, and fled to Germany in 1980 after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War. His most recently published works are: Die Reise nach Tell al-Lahm (Roman, 2004), Jussifs Gesichter (Roman aus der Mekka Bar, 2008), Reise in das Herz des Feindes (Ein Iraker in Israel, 2009), and Engel des Südens (Roman, 2011), as well as Baghdad Marlboro (Roman, 2014).
Today Wali lives in Berlin and is, besides his work as an author, a journalist and correspondent for the Arabic daily newspaper Al Hayat. He also writes for various German newspapers like the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit. Since July 2014 Wali has been publishing a war journal from Iraq in the Berlin TAZ. This journal is based on his correspondence with a woman in Baghdad.
He is a political scientist and has worked since 1997 at the VIDC. He is responsible for the departments Migration & Development, Human Rights, and Anti-Racism.