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Bachtyar Ali with Kareem Abdulrahman at Bard College
September 26, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - September 28, 2023 @ 6:30 pm
Iraqi Kurdish novelist Bachtyar Ali, author of The Last Pomegranate Tree, will speak with translator Kareem Abdulrahman this September as a part of Bard College’s guest lecture series. Ali and Abdulrahman will reflect on the politics of translating Kurdish literature in the contemporary world, and their relationship as novelist and translator.
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.
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.