was born into an Assyrian family in 1956 in Al-Habbaniyah, Iraq. He left Iraq in 1979 to go to Hollywood and become a film-maker, and got as far as Damascus, Amman, Beirut, Nicosia, Cairo and Tunis. In 1985 he settled in Paris, where he started the small press Gilgamesh Editions. In 1996 he moved to London, where he has lived ever since.
He co-founded Banipal magazine, and from September 2010 is its Editor. In 2000, he and Margaret Obank (co-founder and editor of Banipal) edited A Crack in the Wall, poems by sixty contemporary Arab poets.
His autobiographical novel An Iraqi in Paris, was published in Arabic in 2005, and a limited first edition in English translation was published the same year. The Arab press described it as “unique in Arabic language – reminds us of Henry Miller” and “one of the gems of autobiographical writings in the modern period – the era of the image and the revolution of the spectacle”, and “a manifesto of tolerance”. The Times Literary Supplement described it as “a forgiving and powerful book” and The Independent as “an Arabic answer to Miller’s Tropic of Cancer”.
An Iraqi in Paris (English translation) was long-listed for the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It was nominated for the Long List of the 2006 Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Literary Reportage 2006, but as expected for what is clearly a novel, failed to go further. A Swedish edition (Alhambra Förlag) was published in 2007, and a French edition, Un iraqien à Paris, in April 2008 by Actes Sud. In 2009 a chapter was published in German translation in the German literary magazine Sprachgebunden with a complementary reading and discussion taking place at the Berlin Literature Festival in September 2009.
In January 2011 a new re-translated English edition of An Iraqi in Paris was published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing. In March 2011, Samuel Shimon was giving readings and talks on modern Arabic literature at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of North Carolina.
Samuel is the founder editor of the most popular literary website in Arabic www.kikah.com and a profile in the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung in 2003 described him as “the Initiator” and “a tireless missionary for literary matters”.
In 2010 he edited Beirut39:New Writing from the Arab World, the anthology of writing by the 39 authors of the Beirut39 Hay festival project.
"Pedlar, traveller, militant, refugee, literary authority? Above all, perhaps, this personable Iraqi is a movie buff, a kind of frustrated filmmaker. It would be hard to follow the chronological life course of so non-linear a man. Suffice to say that 10 years since settling in London – where his name has become synonymous with both Banipal, the English language's best known journal of Arabic literature, and kikah.com, the vastly popular "website for Arab and international cultures" – Shimon's hard-won sense of fulfilment belies dreams unrealised . . .
So begins an interview with Samuel Shimon in Al-Ahram Weekly in August 2006. For link to full interview click here.
Banipal No 23 Summer 2005
Banipal No 19 Spring 2004
Banipal No 20 Summer 2004
Banipal No 21 Autumn 2004
Banipal No 17 Summer 2003
Banipal No 12 Autumn 2001
Banipal No 5 Summer 1999
Banipal No 3 October 1998
Banipal No 18 Autumn 2003
Banipal No 7 Spring 2000
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