The Last Pomegranate Tree


Translated from by

Published: January 24, 2023


ISBN: 9781953861405, eisbn 9781953861412
This item will be released on January 24, 2023.


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Book Description

“Whenever he told lies, the birds would fly away. It had been that way since he was a child. Whenever he told a lie, something strange would happen.” So begins Bachtyar Ali’s The Last Pomegranate Tree, a phantasmagoric warren of fact, fabrication, and mystical allegory, set in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s rule and Iraq’s Kurdish conflict. Muzafar-i Subhdam, a peshmerga fighter, has spent the last twenty-one years imprisoned in a desert yearning for his son, Saryas, who was only a few days old when Muzafar was captured. Upon his release, Muzafar begins a frantic search, only to learn that Saryas was one of three identical boys who became enmeshed in each other’s lives as war mutilated the region. An inlet to the recesses of a terrifying historical moment, and a philosophical journey of formidable depths, The Last Pomegranate Tree interrogates the origins and reverberations of atrocity. It also probes, with a graceful intelligence, unforgettable acts of mercy.

Bakhtyar Ali’s skillful, seamless movement between history and mythologies is unique in its political engagement and cultural depths. A major writer of our time.
Rawi Hage

Superbly realized novel of life, death, and what lies between . . . Blending magical realism with dark fables worthy of Kafka, Kurdish novelist Ali spins episodes that require the willing suspension of disbelief while richly rewarding that surrender . . . Altogether extraordinary: a masterwork of modern Middle Eastern literature deserving the widest possible audience.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Kaleidoscopic and mesmerizing . . . Ali’s novel is a visionary wonder that plunges into the dreamscape of a people’s fraught memory. For readers, this is unforgettable.
Publishers Weekly, starred review


Bachtyar Ali pulls in readers with rich, intertwining plots and limpid writing. With the power of an ancient, oral storyteller, the story stops only to start again, punctuated by experiences of disappointment, and by the necessity to overcome them.

Bachtyar Ali is a model novelist . . . like Achebe and Pynchon, Morante and Ortese, who knew how to give a concrete anthropological and narrative foundation to their vision – one made of tragedy and poetry, or rather, the fairytale and the epic. A balance that few writers in the world are still capable of achieving.
La Domenica – Il Sole 24 Ore

Bachtyar Ali invites us to hope and believe in literature as a form of resilience.
La Lettura – Corriere della Sera on The City of White Musicians

The book is a drumbeat. You understand immediately why the author has cult status in the Middle East. How could such an author hide for so long from our book market? There’s a lot we are going to hear and to read from him.
Süddeutsche Zeitung

For twenty years the magician of pictures from Kurdistan lived undetected in Germany. Now Unionsverlag publishes in German his powerful parable.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

A timeless and contemporary story, wrapped in a fairytale atmosphere.
Il Libraio

A powerful, bleak panorama of a society scarred by history.
Times Literary Supplement

A leading novelist who marks a new era.

Bachtyar Ali is a narrator who is washed with all waters: those of literature and literary theory of the modern age, but also those from the oldest, mythical source of all literature, the need to tell stories in order to tell history, to create meaning.
Stefan Weidner, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

In his works, Bachtyar Ali actually not only looks lovingly at the disturbed victims, but shows, without making any excuses, how fluid the boundaries between victim and perpetrator can become, and so struggles for a new concept of justice that embraces the individual.
Stephan Stockmar, Die Drei

His dreamlike, poetic translation of language makes reading his books a linguistic delight. They are solitaires in the book landscape.
Literature Garage

Bachtyar Ali is one of the greatest writers of Eastern literature.
Fazil Thamir, Head of the Iraqi Writers Union

I’ve read a lot of novels, many of them beautiful novels, but if I have to choose ten of them, I’d have to include all four of Bachtyar Ali’s novels.
Sherzad Hassan

If in centuries to come someone wants to understand present-day Kurdish society, reading Bachtyar Ali’s novels would be what they need to do.
Mariwan Kanie