Bader's tale interweaves the multiple identities and philosophies that have characterised the region for millennia but which have been obscured by the ahistorical reductionism that leads much discussion of these countries to be simply about which one should be bombed next. The publisher has done English readers a great service by translating this novel from the Arabic. So rich and wryly described is The Tobacco Keeper that on nearing the end I only wished for another 300 pages on which this enthralling tapestry could continue.
ALI BADER (born in Baghdad, 1979) is an Iraqi novelist, essayist, poet, and screenwriter and the winner of five major Arabic awards. In addition to his fourteen novels, he has published several works of nonfiction and poetry collections. His books in English include Papa Sartre (AUC Press, 2009), and The Tobacco Keeper (Longlisted for the Arab Booker Prize, Bloomsbury, 2012). One of his short stories is included in the anthology Iraq+100 (Comma Press, 2016), chosen as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2016 in The Guardian and in Barnes & Noble. Another of his short stories is included in the anthology Baghdad Noir, to be published in July 2018 (Akashic Books).
Before he had to flee for his life, Ali Bader studied philosophy and French literature in Baghdad. He worked as an actor, as a columnist for Arabic newspapers, and also as a war correspondent. In his novels, Bader challenges prevailing stereotypes about his region and also the ideology of extremists. In The Cloud Musician, based on his own life, he also criticises the idealised image of Europe. Ali Bader currently lives in Brussels.
Papa Sartre (2001) Translated into English (American University of Cairo Press, 2009) and French (Le Seuil, 2014)
Family's Winter (2002)
The Naked Feast (2003)
The Road to Moutran Hill (2004)
Tumult, Women, and Obscured Writer (2005)
Jerusalem Lantern (a novel about Edward Said, 2006)
Running After the Wolves (2007)
The Tobacco Keeper (2008), Long list Arab Booker Prize, translated into English (Bloomsbury, 2011) and French (Le Seuil, 2016)
Kings of the Sands (2009) (Long list Arab Booker Prize)
Crime, Art, and Baghdad Dictionary (2010)
The Professors of Illusion (2011)
The Infidel Woman (2015)
The Cloud Musician (2016), translated into Dutch (Jurgen Maas, 2017) and Italian (Argo, 2017)
Liars Get Everything (2017)
Read Ali Bader's powerful short story, Be Quiet, Soldiers in Words Without Borders (April 2013)
Read his very short yet brilliant story, A Pint of Guinness for Hanna the Sailor in Eleven Eleven Journal (California College of the Arts)
Read a review of his novel, The Tobacco Keeper
Read an interview about why Ali Bader shifted women's liberation to the center of his work in The Infidel Woman