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(Basra 1930 – Baghdad 2006)
“Honesty with one’s self is the only way for a writer to be honest in expression” was Al-Saqr’s well-known byword.
With the death of Mahdi Issa al-Saqr on 14 March 2006, Iraqi fiction has lost its pioneering author, just three weeks after his novel Beit ala Nahr Dijla [House on the Tigris], written in 1992, was published. Al-Saqr started writing at the end of the 1940s and published his first short story, “Al-Rajul al-Majnoon” [The Mad Man] in 1948 and in 1950 his second, “Muwatan Jadeed” [New Citizen], was published in the Beirut-based magazine Al-Adeeb.
He published his first collection of short stories, Mujrimoon Tayeboon [Criminals with kind Hearts] in 1954. In the same year he established with Badr Shakir al-Sayyab the Usrat Al-Fan Mu’aser [Modern Art Group] in Baghdad, which published new Iraqi creative writing. He has published six collections of short stories, one of them in Damascus, with another withdrawn from Iraqi public libraries in 1968, also five novels and a memoir. Three novels and a collection of short stories are awaiting publication.