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The Lewis Center for the Arts and Labyrinth Books present “War from the Inside: A Reading”
With writers Hassan Blasim, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, Roy Scranton and introduction by Chris Hedges


Steve Runk     
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

On Thursday, April 3, writers Hassan Blasim, Joydeep Roy-Battacharya, and Roy Scranton will share their work at “War from the Inside: A Reading,” an inside look at the recent wars in the Middle East from Iraqi, Afghan and American points of view. The writers will be introduced by former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges. The reading, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Labyrinth Books at 122 Nassau Street, is free and open to the public.

Scranton, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Princeton who is organizing the event, notes that with the Iraq War over and the war in Afghanistan winding down, at least for Americans, it is important to look at these events from a range of perspectives. “As we struggle to understand these wars, we often turn to literature,” explains Scranton, “Yet so far most of the stories and novels about Iraq and Afghanistan have been about Americans. We have yet to hear from the Iraqis and Afghans who live with the consequences of a decade of war. We have yet to reckon with what these wars meant for the people who lived through them.”

Princeton's Lewis Center for the Arts and Labyrinth Books are collaborating on the evening of readings, which the organizers hope will open a conversation between the Iraqi point of view, represented by Hassan Blasim, author of The Corpse Exhibition; the Afghan point of view, represented by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s book about the war in Afghanistan, The Watch; and the point of view of American soldiers, represented by Roy Scranton’s edited collection Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.

blasimBlasim’s The Corpse Exhibition offers one of the first major literary works by an Iraqi writer in English. Blasim, whom The Guardian calls "perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive," was born in Baghdad and persecuted under Saddam Hussein's regime. In 1998 he fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, where he made films and taught filmmaking under a pseudonym. A year into the Iraq War, he escaped to Finland, where he now lives as a filmmaker, poet, fiction writer, and co-editor of the Arabic literary website Iraq Story. His previous books in English are The Iraqi Christ and The Madman of Freedom Square.

bhattacharyaRoy-Bhattacharya was born in Jamshedpur, India, and educated in philosophy and politics at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Pennsylvania. His last novel, The Watch (2012), a retelling of Sophocles' Antigone set in Afghanistan, was nominated for the International IMPAC Prize, shortlisted for the Criticos Prize (United Kingdom) and the Boeke Prize (South Africa), longlisted for the DSC South Asian Prize in Fiction, and selected as one of the ten best novels of 2012 and ten best contemporary war novels by Publishers Weekly. His previous novels are The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh. His next book, Light Angel, set in Iran, is due for publication in 2015.

scrantonScranton's edited collection, Fire and Forget, brings together fiction by 14 American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and a military spouse. His fiction and essays have been published in Boston Review, The New York Times, LIT, Prairie Schooner, Theory & Event, Contemporary Literature, and elsewhere. He was an artilleryman in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2006, and served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

chris hedgesHedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was part of The New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He writes a weekly original column for the website Truthdig and has written for Harper’s Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. He is the author of the bestsellers Death of the Liberal Class, Empire of Illusion, and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.

The reading is also supported by OMI International Arts Center, a not-for-profit arts organization based in Ghent, New York, which provides residency programs for international visual artists, writers, translators, musicians, and dancers that seeks to foster an environment of creative exploration and exchange, professional opportunity and exposure, and a stylistically and culturally diverse community for creative artists from around the world.

To learn more about events held at Labyrinth Books please visit


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Photo Caption:  Writers Hassan Blasim, Joydeep  Roy-Bhattacharya, and Roy Scranton
Photo Credit:  Courtesy of the writers

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