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Iraqi writer brings Persian literature to Arab world

Ghassan Hamdan bridges the Iranian-Arab divide with his translations of Persian literature into Arabic.
Residents gather at the Shabandar Cafe in Baghdad's Mutanabi street April 5, 2011. Reading books, buying books and discussing books are the defining pleasures of being a Baghdad intellectual, and for generations the life of the mind has orbited around this lane, the booksellers' market of the Iraqi capital. Four years ago, in a blow felt deeply by Iraq's intelligentsia, a car bomb killed 26 people here. Now, the street is again open, guarded and seemingly safe, and jammed every Friday with students, profess
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Ghassan Hamdan was born in Iraq, raised in Iran and has spent part of his life in Syria. He considers both Iran and Iraq equally his homeland. He began his career by translating Persian poetry, but in the past few years, he has been translating and publishing Iranian novels for the Arab world, specifically Egypt. He has published translations of more than a dozen novels by some of Iran's most famous writers.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Hamdan talked about his work and the gap that has widened between Iran and the Arab world and how it might be narrowed through cultural activities such as his translations of Persian works into Arabic. His top priority, he said, “is introducing famous Iranian Sufis to Arab readers.”

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