ABOUT ARKAN ASAAD
Arkan Asaad was born in 1980 in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Kirkuk. He arrived in Sweden in 1983 along with his family. He has won several Swedish Taekwondo championships and currently teaches taekwondo to teenagers. Arkan Asaad has also attended Stockholms Filmskola (Stockholm Film School) and worked on the radio show Underlandet which was broadcast by radio channel P3. His first novel, Stjärnlösa nätter (Starless Nights), was published in 2011.
Arkan Asaad received the Stiftelsen Teskedsorden book award in 2011 for his novel with the following motivation: “A strong testimony about the collision between a father and a son, between Western beliefs in individuality and strong, Middle East family traditions, but also a story about a young man’s dream of choosing his wife out of love – a dream of liberty which almost costs him his life.”
Arkan Asaad is currently working on his second novel in collaboration with his father Asaad Madhad, an affecting story about his father’s escape from Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.
Asaad is also a popular lecturer, and during the spring of 2012 he has recorded a dvd with his reading performance at Södra Teatern, Stockholm; a material which will be used by schools and by the police authorities among others.
Starless Nights is a novel about the collision of the strong ties between fathers and sons, spun from inherent ideas about respect and duty towards one’s family, and a young man’s obvious right to choose his own way of life. The story about Amàr gives the reader insight into a world unknown to most of us.
Starless Nights is about Amàr who grows up in a Kurdish family in a normal town in Sweden, with a very dominating father. When Amàr is eighteen, the family sets out on a roadtrip to visit their relatives in Iraq. It is the first time in many years that they go back to their native land, and expectations are high. Once they reach their destination after travelling through Europe on a car journey filled with hardships, a series of cultural collisions take place. To Amàr, who has moved away from home in Sweden, it is natural to take care of the dishes, but his female relatives stop him while giggling and admonishing him. Amàr is very happy at first to see his cousin Amina who is his age but is shocked once he finds out that his father has decided that the two should marry, without having told him anything about his plans. Amàr cannot handle the pressure from his relatives and agrees to the marriage but changes his mind. That is when true hell breaks loose.
Arkan Asaad’s style of writing is unguarded, charming, very funny and very sad. In Starless Nights we are able to take part of a tradition of honour from a young man’s point of view for the first time.
“Everyone should read this book.” Dagens bok
“If I were a teacher of Swedish looking for fiction that would interest teenage boys who never read anything I would give Arkan Asaad’s Starless Nights a try. It is written in such a straight-forward, simple manner that I inhale it in one breath. I can’t – nor do I want to – stop reading it even though it hurts. /…/ When it comes to the language and the literary qualities of the book, Starless Nights is a straight-forward, simple report written by a vulnerable person, not about him. One is tempted to define the novel as first and foremost a portrayal of the “childhood diseases” of the multicultural society, but it is just as much a portrayal of a manliness about to change.” Maria Küchen
“I can’t seem to remember ever reading a more straight-forward and distressing portrayal of the subject.”
“With simple means and a straight-forward language, with expression and heart, Asaad tells the story about the way a person’s freedom can be crushed by one’s inherited culture. And by one’s own increasingly desperate measures of self-deception.” Stefan Whilde, Sourze.se
“An important novel about the right to choose one’s own life”, SvD
“Powerfully written about the struggle for a life of one’s own” / Skånska Dagbladet
“claustrophobically exciting – and important” / Tidningen VI
“Precisely because it lacks literary embellishment, the story becomes even more affecting. You truly feel for Amàr in his profound loneliness and confusion. The novel tells the story of painful experiences of the imbalances of the multicultural society. It is the strongest portrayal, the horrid split between family loyalty and free will.” Björn Gunnarsson, Hallandsposten
“His story portrays the differences between cultures in such a powerful and pure way that any storytelling tricks are unnecessary.” Tomas Löthman, Västerbottens Folkblad
“The tradition of honour as seen from the inside”, Aftonbladet
“a temperamental and brave testimony”, GP
“Arkan Asaad doesn’t really write. He attacks language, wreaks havoc and fights with it as if it were a physical material. He is not content until the words are soft and malleable enough to slip onto love and anger and pain. He stretches them until they are able to fit big things like pathos. He squeezes them until they are normal enough to contain a hand stroking one’s forehead, a voice telling you that everything will be okay.
What kind of person, then, is someone who deals with language this way? A stubborn one, of course! Obviously brave. Paradoxically enough, happy and bright. But most of all: he never gives up.” / Editor Marie Pettersson
For rights inquiries, please contact Henrik B. Nilsson at Nilsson Literary Agency.
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