Iraqi literature is, and has been, deeply marked by Iraq's political history.
In the late 1970s, a period of economic upturn, prominent writers in Iraq were provided with an apartment and car by Saddam Hussein's government, and were guaranteed at least one publication per year. In exchange, literature was expected to express and galvanise support for the ruling Ba'ath Party. The Iran–Iraq War (1980-1988) fuelled a demand for patriotic literature, but also pushed a number of writers into opting for exile. According to Najem Wali, during this period, "[e]ven those who chose to quit writing saw themselves forced to write something that did not rile the dictator, because even silence was considered a crime."
From the late 1980s onwards, Iraqi exile literature developed with writers whose "rejection of dominant ideology and [whose] resistance to the wars in Iraq compelled them to formulate a 'brutally raw realism' characterized by a shocking sense of modernity" (N. Wali).
- WALI, Najem, "Iraq", in Literature from the "Axis of Evil" (a Words Without Borders anthology), ISBN 978-1-59558-205-8, 2006, pp. 51-4.
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