Mortada Gzar

Mortada Gzar


مرتضى كزار

Born in 1982 in Kuwait, Mortada Gzar is an Iraqi novelist, filmmaker, and visual artist currently based in the United States. Gzar grew up in Basra, Iraq, and earned a petroleum engineering degree from the University of Baghdad. 

Gzar has written many short stories and four novels, beginning with   Computopia, Zero One in 2006. He then published Broom of Paradise (2008), Sayyid Asghar Akbar (2013), and My Beautiful Cult (2016), which were widely praised in the Arab world, as well as in academic spheres.

In 2016, Gzar was a resident at the Iowa International Writing Program. He continued his writing journey in the United States with his memoir, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You? A Memoir, published in English translation in 2021. This text, recalling Gzar’s move to Seattle in search of a man he loved while in Basra, as well as his own experiences growing up as a gay man in Iraq, was very well received in the US, earning a Pen America Translation Prize longlisting in 2022. The original Arabic text has not yet been published. In addition to his novels, Gzar has written, directed, and produced films that have screened at international festivals, including an animated short film, Language, which won the Doha Film Award. He also founded the Seattle Arab Film Festival in 2018.

Hiw Twitter account (in English):

© Twitter (personal account)
Date of birth : 1982
Country of birth: Kuwait
Country of residence: USA

Selected bibliography

  • I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?: A Memoir, translated by William Hutchins, Amazon Crossing, 2021
  • ‘Don’t Put Your Elephant In Your Luggage’, short story, Newfound Journal, translated into English by Katharine Halls, 2017
  • ‘The Day by Day Mosque’, short story, Iraq +100, Comma Press, translated into English by Katharine Halls, 2016
  • طائفتي الجميلة, My Beautiful Cult*,   Dar Al Jamal, 2016
  • السيد أصغر أكبر, Mr Asghar Akbar* Dar Al Tanweer, 2012
  • مكنسة الجنة, Broom of Paradise*, Dar Azminah, 2008
  • واحد, Computopia, Zero One*, Dar Al Maghrib, 2006

*Working title


Mortada Gzar Discusses “I’m in Seattle, Where are you?” by The Seattle Times, August 2021

With humor and heartache, Mortada Gzar’s new memoir spans the distance between Iraq and Seattle”  The Seattle Times, March 2018

Mortada Gzar’s “My Beautiful Sect” : Visions of a deformed Iraqi Reality by Arablit, 2017

Prizes and awards

  • I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?: A Memoir, translated by William Hutchins, longlisted for the Pen Translation Prize 2022

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Clara Défachel