Shalash the Iraqi

Populated by a cast of imagined con artists, holy fools, drag queens, and partisans – as well as some very factual politicians, priests, and generals – this novel started life as a pseudonymous blog written ‘live’ by ‘Shalash’ during and after the Second Iraq War. Never written to be published, all but lost save for disintegrating printouts treasured by its devotees, Shalash the Iraqi is here presented in its first authorised translation, with the blessing and commentary of ‘Shalash’ himself.

The second U.S. invasion of Iraq began in the spring of 2003. By the autumn of 2005, though the Saddam Hussein regime had reached its bloody end, ordinary Iraqis were seeing little improvement in their daily lives. In the midst of this turmoil, a hero arose – or, rather, a jester. In a country where electricity was only intermittently available, a series of blog posts began to appear at a soon-to-be-defunct website and took Baghdad by storm. Individual entries were printed out and passed around for months, until the pages were nearly shredded. Where neither computers nor printers were available, the posts were retold aloud, then passed along at second- and third-hand. What could inspire such devotion? Signed ‘Shalash the Iraqi’, the posts proved to be nothing less than portions of a madcap serial novel thumbing its nose at Iraq’s new normal.

From drunken monologues to prayers, from poetry to dirty jokes, from fairy tales and folk stories to pratfall humour, this novel delights readers and sheds light on Iraq in equal measure.

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EBook: £9.99

More Info

  • If you subscribed to And Other Stories by 26 June 2022, you will receive your  copy of Shalash the Iraqi – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – ahead of publication, in January 2023, as well as up to five other specially selected And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.
  • Reuters reported on media in Iraq, including Shalash’s blog, in this 2009 article available here.
  • You can read a 2005 interview with Iraqi-American academic and Shalash the Iraqi introducer by Dissent Magazine here.


Author: Shalash
Translator: Luke Leafgren
Original language: Arabic
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 2 May 2023
ISBN: 9781913505646
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505653
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 352