Hassan Blasim’s Iraqi short story collection, The Corpse Exhibition (2014), signals that traditional modes of critical analysis have reached their limits, offering us only the possibility of implication within the human rights violations we seek to expel. His stories present narratives of violence that force the reader into a position in which she risks reifying acts of torture—turning alleged wartime violence into moments of everyday violence—simply by reading. Blasim alerts his reader of an urgent need to move beyond prevailing forms of critique to newly productive modes of literary encounter. At a moment in which the language of human rights has become so pervasive in fiction and political speech, Blasim’s work suggests there is no form of encounter with the text that does not put us in the precarious position of doing more harm than good. To read—an everyday act of the privileged, or of those in positions of social and cultural power—becomes an exploit through which we develop the capacity to create images of torture, thereby bringing particularized violence, without regard for its temporal or spatial position, into the realm of the everyday.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 259-291
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.