Black on Black:
The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq, a collection of short stories by Hassan Blasim is dark. In almost every way. The cover is pitch black, the pages between stories are fully inked black sheets, there is murder, rape, and war. Dark.
I did not enjoy a single one of the stories. The writing was brilliant. I had to force myself to finish the collection.
I, at times, felt borderline nauseous reading these stories. I would read them again.
Though several of the stories feature elements of fantasy and the surreal, there is a backdrop of a broken land, filled with violence. A place where a walk to the market can and does go wrong. Reality is blurred around the edges.
A Poignant, Painful Read:
Each story served as a serrated reminder that there is a lot going on outside, in so many places around the world. Things that I can hardly imagine while I type this from the comfort of a Moscow flat, tapping away on my Macbook between sips of beer. Whether or not the events in the stories indulge in a degree of exaggeration, there is no doubt that some downright hellish shit is occurring somewhere out there..
The stories were sickening. The images visceral, deprived, and grotesque.
I recommend them.