Bachtyar Ali


Bachtyar Ali is one of the most renowned contemporary authors and poets from Iraqi Kurdistan. He was born in 1966 in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq. In 1983, he came into conflict with the dictator Saddam Hussein, was injured during student protests, and abruptly ended his studies in geology. He devoted himself to poetry instead and received that same year his first prize, for his poem, "Nishtiman" (Homeland). His first collection of poetry, Gunah w Karnaval (Sin and Carnival) appeared in 1992.

After the revolt of 1991, writers and intellectuals in the Kurdish region of Iraq experienced a surge of creative autonomy. Bachtyar Ali intensified his own artistic activity and devoted himself simultaneously to the philosophical magazine, Azadi (Freedom). His work comprised novels, poetry, and essays. In Kurdistan, he earned a great reputation through his non-partisanship and open criticism toward the political and social relationships in his homeland.

In 2005, the Ministry of Education of Iraqi Kurdistan elected the novel Shari Mosiqare Spiyekan (The City of the White Musicians) as the best book of the year. In 2009, Ali received the first HARDI Literature Prize, part of the largest cultural festival in the Kurdish part of Iraq. In 2014, he was also awarded the newly established Sherko Bekas Literature Prize.

Bachtyar Ali has lived in Cologne since 1998.

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