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Samir Naqqash (Hebrew: סמיר נקאש, Arabic: سمير نقاش; b. Baghdad 1938, d. Petah Tikva 6 July 2004) was an Israeli novelist, short-story writer, and playwright who immigrated from Iraq at the age of 13.
Samir Naqqash was born in Baghdad, the first of six children born to a wealthy Jewish family. He began school at the age of 4, and started writing at 6. When he was 13, he and his family moved to Israel, and had to live under comparatively harsh conditions in an absorption center. Several years later, his father died, and this had a strong effect on him. Determined to leave Israel to find himself, Naqqash lived in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom from 1958 to 1962, but faced difficulties and was forced to return to Israel, where he took various jobs.
In the 1970s, he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and received his degree in Arabic literature. He was well known in the Arab world and among the Iraqi community in Israel, but only one of his works was translated into Hebrew. Naqqash won the Israeli Prime Ministerial Award for Arabic literature.
Naqqash often called himself an Arab who believed in Judaism. In the documentary "Forget Baghdad" (2002), he said that he had not wanted to go to Israel but was taken there in handcuffs by the Jewish Agency. He never felt at home in Israel, and considered himself an Iraqi in exile. He continued to publish and write in Arabic. He saw himself as part of the great tradition of Arabic folklore and literature. He was often criticized for his Arabic sounding first name but he refused to change it. After his death, Iraqi expatriates declared their wish to have him buried in Iraq, reasoning that he has shown more dedication to Iraq than any other expatriate.
Naqqash was married, and had one daughter and two sons.
- Isaac, Mardean (15 May 2019). "Samir Naqqash: Master of the Double Exile". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
- With new translation, Samir Naqqash’s place in Israeli literature should finally be celebrated, Mondoweiss, Mati Shemoelof, 18.8.2020
- In English :http://acc.teachmideast.org/texts.php?module_id=7&reading_id=310&sequence=1
- site=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/461488.html at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 August 2004) Art, etc. / Exiled from Babylon, Obituary in Haaretz by Neri Livneh, 6 August 2004
- Marking the Passing of Samir Naqqash, by David Shasha, Kedma, 22 July 2004 (in Hebrew)
- Hawker, Nancy (January–February 2004). "Mizrahi wanderings". New Left Review. New Left Review. II (25).