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Narrating horrific refugee experiences in Hassan Blasim’s short fiction

Gregory Fox, Rachel (2022) Narrating horrific refugee experiences in Hassan Blasim’s short fiction. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 59 (1). pp. 43-56. ISSN 1744-9863. (doi:10.1080/17449855.2022.2150090) (KAR id:99267)


Hassan Blasim’s short stories, featured in his 2009 collection The Madman of Freedom Square, present the horrors – both spectacular and mundane – of the refugee experience. Blasim’s writing, by turns surreal and grotesquely intimate, evokes familiar themes of the Gothic, and his stories are rife with haunted protagonists and monstrous entities. Focusing on three short stories – “The Reality and the Record”, “The Truck to Berlin”, and “Ali’s Bag” – this article critically considers how Blasim utilizes a Gothic aesthetic in his writing to represent and critique the unspeakable violence that is experienced by Iraqi refugees. Working at the intersection of literary refugee studies, abject theory, and the Gothic, this article argues that Blasim’s fiction closes the distance between his readers and the figure of the refugee, challenging the expectations of his largely metropolitan, European readers who may otherwise seek authenticity, look for allegory, and anticipate abject spectacle amongst his works.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/17449855.2022.2150090
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Hassan Blasim; The Madman of Freedom Square; Iraq; refugee; asylum; Gothic
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2023 16:15 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 12:30 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Gregory Fox, Rachel.

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