Author and Journalist, Berlin
Najem Wali was born in al-Amara, Iraq, on October 20, 1956, and earned a degree in German literature from Baghdad University in 1978. In 1980 he left Iraq and settled in Hamburg where he earned an M.A. in German Literature in 1987. From 1987 to 1990 he lived in Madrid, where he studied Spanish and Latin-American literature. He also lived in Oxford for six months in 1993 and in Florence for six months in 1995.
In 1989, his novel, Krieg im Vergnügungsviertel ( War in the Entertainment District ), was published by Perspol Verlag, Hamburg, in the German translation of the author s friend Jürgen Paul. The Arabic original, Al-Harb fi Hayy al-Tarab, was first published in Damascus and Budapest in 1993 by Dar Sahra and reissued in 1995. His short story collection Laylat Mary al-Akhirah ( Mary s Last Night ) was published in Cairo in 1995. His novel Makan Ismuhu Kumait ( A Place Called Kumait ) was published in Cairo in 1997. A French translation by Marianne Weiss, Une Ville nomée Komeit, was published by L Esprit des Péninsules in 1999 and a Swedish one appeared in 2002. Tall al-Lahm was released in Beirut and London by Dar Al Saqi in 2001. In 2004, Hanser Verlag published the German translation: Die Reise nach Tell al-Lahm. He has also published the short story collections There in the Strange City (Hamburg: Verlag Am Galgenberg, 1990) and Valse ma a Matilda (Waltzing Matilda, Damascus: Dar Al-Mada, 2001). Surat Yusuf ( Yusuf s Picture ) was published in Beirut and Casablanca in 2005 and then in Cairo in 2008. The novel s German translation was released in hardback by Hanser in 2008 and in paperback by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag in 2010. His recent novel, Mala ika al-Junub (Angels of the South), was published by Dar Kaleem Publishing in Dubai, UAE, in 2009, and in German translation in 2011 by Carl Hanser Verlag in Munich.
Najem Wali now lives in Berlin, where he works as a freelance journalist and cultural correspondent for the largest Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat. His controversial Israel travel book was published in German translation as Reise in das Herz des Feindes : ein Iraker in Israel ( Journey to the Heart of the Enemy: An Iraqi in Israel ) by Carl Hanser Verlag in 2009. English translations of some of his stories have appeared online in Words Without Borders and in print in Brooklyn Rail Magazine. His short story Wars in Distant Lands appeared in the February 2008 issue of Harper s. An excerpt from the translation by William Hutchins of his novel Yusuf s Picture is posted at www.wordswithoutborders.org in the September 2010 issue.