Mortada Gzar with William Hutchins & Christopher Merrill
Iraqi novelist and short story writer Mortaa Gzar, a native of the city of Basra, is the highly regarded author of four novels and numerous stories, those published in Arabic. A chance encounter with a U.S. soldier, a man from Seattle, was for him love at first sight, enough to draw him to Seattle and the U.S. even as Donald Trump was literally being elected president. In his newly published memoir, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You? (Amazon Crossing), he tells his own story in memoir form for the first time, a story that has had him living here these past five years. Translated from the Arabic by William Hutchins, who will be part of this program, along with poet/essayist Christopher Merrill (who also heads the University of Iowa’s renowned International Writing Program.
“At once hilarious and truly haunting, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You? is a story of so much: war and savagery, queerness and exile, love and loss. Mortada Gzar is the rare memoirist who understands memory itself—illogical, impossible, magical.” —Rumaan Alam.
“Mortada Gzar’s memoir, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?, is a dazzling account of love, loss, and the complications of exile. This Iraqi novelist, filmmaker, and artist, a Whitman-like figure who contains multitudes in his embrace of the cosmos, understands ‘that stories, like meteors, obey the laws of physics,’ and what emerges in the stories he tells to an array of characters, including the statue of a vagrant, is proof that while ‘their energy does not fade or increase’ they will shape the lives and thinking of those who have the good luck to hear them. This is exactly the book to read in this fraught time.” —Christopher Merrill.
Presented by The Seattle Public Library in partnership with Seattle UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, University of Iowa International Writing Program, Elliott Bay Book Company, and The Seattle Public Library Foundation.