Autumn visions: war and the imagery of Muhammad Khudayyir

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The modern history of Iraq as a nation state has been affected by repeated conflict and war. Iraqi writers have engaged with this fraught reality in their works. For example, some of the early short stories by Muḥammad Khuḍayyir (b. 1942) were clearly influenced by the atmosphere in the aftermath of the 1967 war, while the stories he wrote in the 1980s responded indirectly to the reality of the situation in Basra during the long war with Iran. However, his fiction is unlike anything else in contemporary Arabic literature and its difficulty has meant few critics have discussed it in detail. This article traces the development of Khudayyir’s fiction, with a particular focus on the use of imagery in a selection of his key stories from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which were re-published and re-evaluated in the 1990s and 2000s.
The increasingly unconventional and oblique ways in which he represents, and responds to, war allow Khuḍayyir to articulate an original narrative discourse that is alternative to both the official pro-war rhetoric promoted by the Baʿth party during its time in power, and the prevailing depiction of the Iraqi reality in the works of more highly acclaimed Iraqi writers today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-270
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Issue number3
Early online date31 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • War
  • Iraq fiction
  • Imagery
  • Muḥammad Khuḍayyir
  • Difficulty


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