The Iron Grasshopper

The Iron Grasshopper
(working title)
الجندب الحديدي
(Al-jundub al-hadidi)

Written by

(سليم بركات)

Published by


A short but pioneering autobiographical work set in northern Syria.

Salim Barakat recalls in a poetic style his childhood in the countryside of northern Syria in the 1950s and 1960s, as a member of the Kurdish community, using a series of characters from the village throughout this autobiographical novel. He depicts the harshness of everyday life in a small, remote village, and its surrounding landscape as a cruel playground for the children. It’s a multicultural land inhabited by Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Roma, and others, but also where the rivalry between the Arab neighbours is underwritten by government authorities, and where the local society’s conservatism is apparent in its wedding customs, vendettas, and religious beliefs. Barakat describes local customs in the form of recollections by the village elders that partly inspired his complicated fictional world.
Two years later, Barakat published a second autobiographical work loosely titled “Bring it loudly… bring the horn to its limit.”

Initially published by Dar Al Talia, it was republished in 1998 by Dar Al Jadeed

Approximate number of page: 100 p.

Foreign rights: contact author


Categories: non-fiction
Time periods: 1950s & 1960s

Reasons to publish this book

Salim Barakat is a great name in the world of modern Syrian literature. This short book is a perfect way to enter his complicated fictional world, since it describes everyday life in multicultural Syrian Kurdistan in the early 1960. It also depicts a lost world; Syria’s policy towards the Kurds, followed by the major threat posed by ISIS which was bravely thwarted but still profoundly changed and reshaped this fragile northern area of Syria known as Rojava.



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

The Two Autobiographies: Salim Barakat Bleeding in Forgotten Places by ArabLit, November 2017

Translation sample in English in Banipal (trans. by Mona Zaki)

Rojava, d’un champ de cactus à un autre, deux récits (in French) by Confluences Méditerranée, 2016

En pays kurde syrien. L’enfance du monde (in French) by Le Monde Diplomatique, April 1993

Reviewed by Xavier Luffin