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Bachtyar Ali at the Toronto International Festival of Authors with Jalamuddin Aram

September 24, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Toronto International Festival of Authors

Bachtyar Ali, author of The Last Pomegranate Tree, will speak with documentary filmmaker and writer Jamaluddin Aram in a conversation moderated by Ann Yu-Kying Choi this September at the Toronto International Festival of Authors. Translator Kareem Abdulrahman will serve as interpreter during this conversation.

Ali’s The Last Pomegranate Tree follows one man’s desperate quest to reconnect with his only son in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s rule; in Aram’s Nothing Good Happens in Wazirabad on Wednesday, a cast of memorable characters struggle to find their footing as civil war breaks out in Kabul, Afghanistan.

From different moments in time and history, both novels explore the impact of war on ordinary people and attempt to make sense of these moments marked by atrocity.

You can register for this event on TIFA’s website.

Bachtyar Ali was born in 1966 in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq. In 1983, he was injured during a student protest against Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party, and the experience inspired him to focus on writing. He received his first prize that year, for his poem “Nishtiman” (“Homeland”). After the revolt of 1991, writers and intellectuals in the Kurdish region of Iraq experienced a surge of creative autonomy. In the intervening years Ali has written over 40 books of fiction, poetry, and criticism, including 12 novels. He has been translated into over seven languages, a renown very few authors writing in the Kurdish language enjoy. In 2017, he was awarded the Nelly Sachs Prize. He is also the recipient of the Sherko Bekas Literature Prize and the HARDI Literature Prize, and in 2005, the Ministry of Culture of Iraqi Kurdistan elected the novel Shari Mosiqare Spiyekan (The City of the Musicians in White) as the best book of the year.

Jamaluddin Aram is a documentary filmmaker, producer, and writer from Kabul, Afghanistan. His works have appeared in Numero Cinq, The Write Launch and Cagibi literary magazine among others. His short story “This Hard Easy Life” was a finalist for RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers in 2020. He was mentored by Michael Christie for the Writers’ Trust of Canada Mentorship program for his book Marchoba, now titled Nothing Good Happens in Wazirabad on Wednesday. Jamaluddin has a bachelor’s degree in English and history from Union College in Schenectady, New York. He lives in Toronto.

Originally from South Korea, Ann Yu-Kying Choi immigrated to Canada in 1975. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. The story, set in the 1980s, was inspired by her experiences working in her family-run variety store.

Kareem Abdulrahman is a translator and Kurdish affairs analyst. From 2006 to 2014, he worked as a Kurdish media and political analyst for the BBC, where translation was part of his job. Abdulrahman translated Bachtyar Ali’s I Stared at the Night of the City into English (UK; Periscope; 2016), making it the first Kurdish novel to be translated into English.



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