“Madman of Freedom Square” by Hassan Blasim

This article is also available in: Italiano

“Madman of Freedom Square” is the first book by Hassan Blasim, an Iraqi author capable like no other of showing the darkness and desperation of human beings

Madman of Freedom Square

Imagine a man kidnapped and forced to declare on video that he had committed atrocious crimes in the name of religion. Or a trip of illegal immigrants headed to Europe that turns into carnage. Imagine a soldier who, having been locked in a room for several days with his beloved, feeds on her body and his blood to survive. Corpses that speak, werewolves, severed heads, torn or flayed bodies, fathers who poison their daughters, sons who carry their mother’s skeleton in their suitcases, dead people who write novels, suicides, car bomb explosions, neo-Nazis who in Europe beat the blood out of immigrants. And then madmen, madmen everywhere, and a blurred border between the real and the unreal. Try to imagine all this and more. Creepy images and thrilling scenes, like in the best gothic literature. But this is not simply gothic literature. This is Iraq. Or the Europe of Iraqi refugees.

Iraq between reality, horror and fantasy

On a stylistic level, Hassan Blasim is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most important and characteristic pens in the entire Arab world and with “The Fool of Liberty Square”, his debut book, he shows us this in all its power. In fact, we will be catapulted into a new reality, made of blood, death, desperation and a lot of macabre fantasy. His stories combine the purest Gothic with the catastrophes experienced under Saddam Hussein, giving a completely new and tragic image of Baghdad and Iraq; something that, while remembering the stories of Sinan Antoon in his “The Book of Collateral Damage”, carry within it all the darkness and abyss of the human race.

Madman of Freedom Square

Even though he moves (or at least, so I hope), in the world of the fantastic and the surreal, Hassan Blasim is certainly one of the most important authors for understanding the horrors and tragedies that his compatriots experience both in Iraq and in exile, forcing us to reflect carefully on Europe’s relationship with migrants.

The real monster

If these misfortunes have even a single glimmer of truth (and unfortunately the latter often surpasses the most dramatic fantasies), we then have to ask ourselves where is the humanity of those who, despite all this, still see migrants and “in others” a problem and/or an enemy; probably looking carefully in the mirror he would not find the face of a human being, but that of a monster that not even the most disturbing of Blasim’s stories could describe.

Hassan Blasim was himself a migrant and today lives and works in Finland

A book that will not leave you indifferent, capable of stimulating and overturning every fiber of our body and our being.

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