Salim Barakat

Salim Barakat


سليم بركات

Salim Barakat is a Syrian novelist and poet. He was born in Qamishli, in the Jazira, the northern part of Syria, a predominantly Kurdish area also inhabited by Arabs, Assyrians, and other minorities. In 1970, he went to study literature in Damascus, and then quickly moved to Beirut. He worked for a well-known literary magazine, al-Karmel, directed by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. In 1982, he traveled in Cyprus, and eventually settled in Sweden in 1999, where he still lives today. His novels are so numerous that it is not easy to label his work: many of his novels belong to magical realism genre, such as The Caves of Haydrahodahose (2004), a central work inspired by Kurdish mythology, or the more recent Captive Girls of Sinjar (2016), depicting the fate of Kurdish women during the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but he also wrote important realistic and autobiographical works focusing on his childhood in the Jazira, like The Iron Grasshopper (1993). Most critics in the Arab world and the West consider Salim Barakat as one of the most prominent Syrian authors. His works, written in a sophisticated and poetic language, are complex. Though many of his novels have been translated into French, very few works are available in English.

Courtesy Salim Barakat via Seagull Books
Date of birth : 1951
Country of birth: Syria
Country of residence: Sweden
Publisher(s): Dar Al Jadeed & Dar Al Mada
Contact: Salim Barakat

Selected bibliography

  • سبايا سنجار, The Captives of Sinjar*, Al Mu’assasa Al Arabiya, 2016
  • أقاليم الجن, The Regions of the Djinns*, Al Mu’assasa Al Arabiya, 2016
  • الريش, The Feathers*, Dar Al Mada, 1990. French translationLes Plumes, Actes Sud, 2012, trans. by Emmanuel Varlet
  • كهوف هايدراهوداهوس, The Caves of Haydrahodahus*, Al Mu’assasa Al Arabiya, 2004. French translation: Les Grottes de Haydrahodahus, Actes Sud, 2008, trans. by Bayan Salman
  • دلشاد, Dilshad, Al Mu’assasa Al Arabiya, 2003
  • فقهاء الظلام, Lords of he Night*, Bisan Press, 1985. French translation: Les Seigneurs de la nuit, Actes Sud, 1999, trans. by François Zabbal
  • الجندب الحديدي, The Iron Grasshopper*, Dar Al Talia, 1993. French translation: Le criquet de fer, Actes Sud, 1993, trans. by François Zabbal
  • هاته عاليًا، هات النّفير على آخره, Play High the Trumpet, Play It the Highest*, Dar Al Talia, 1982. French translation: Sonne du cor!, Actes Sud, 1995, trans. by François Zabbal

In English, French:


Two Titles from Arabic Make 2022 Shortlist of Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation, by ArabLit, September 2022

Come, Take a Gentle Stab. The poet Salim Barakat receives his first English translation by 4Columns, October 2021

Mer de l’enfance : Salim Barakat (in French), by Radio France / France Culture, August 2021

Salim Barakat: poetry as linguistic transgression by Jacket2, February 2019 

Swedish Translator: How Is It Possible Salim Barakat’s Books Haven’t Been Translated Into English? by ArabLit, January 2018

Dylana and Diram (an excerpt) by Salim Barakat, by World Literature Today, 2018

Salim Barakat : les Seigneurs de la nuit (in French), by Revue Esprit, March 2000

Prizes and awards

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Xavier Luffin