Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Seagull Books, 2022
In our era of mass migration, much of it driven by war and its aftermath, A Slap in the Face could not be more timely. It tells the story of Karim, an Iraqi refugee living in Germany whose right to asylum has been revoked in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s defeat. But Hussein wasn’t the only reason Karim left, and as Abbas Khider unfolds his story, we learn both the secret struggles he faced in his homeland and the battles with prejudice, distrust, poverty, and bureaucracy he has to endure in his attempts to make a new life in Germany. As he erupts in frustration at his caseworker, and finally forces her to listen to his story, we get an account of a contemporary life upended by politics and violence, told with a warmth and humor that, while surprising us, does nothing to lessen the outrages Karim describes.
Translated by Simon Pare.
Abbas Khider, a political prisoner in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, got a German asylum in 2000 and then studied philosophy and literature. He was awarded the Adelbert von Chamisso Förderpreis in 2010 and the Hilde Domin Prize for literature in exile in 2013.