Tracking Iraq's literary journey

Najaf, Basra literary scenes sees surge in book interest

NAJAF — Najaf’s literary scene is witnessing a surge in interest in a variety of books. At the libraries along Al-Jawahiri Street, also known as Al-Rawan Street, there is significant demand for the Arabic translation of “The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History” by the multi-talented Austrian author Erik Durschmied, published by Al-Mada Publishing House. The book examines key paradoxes in the history of wars and conflicts, exploring how random events and human errors have shifted historical outcomes.

Nawar Muhyi Al-Din, the manager of the Iqraa Bookstore, told 964media that it has been the best-selling book of the week. “It delves into a collection of historical events and details, discussing how chance or, as the author calls it, ‘stupidity,’ can lead to losing a major battle or event,” said al-Din.

Readers are also gravitating toward “The Path to Salvation” by the late religious figure Mohammed Hussein Tehrani. Ali Jabrin, manager of Dar Al-Mujtaba Library, reports that this book is also among the top sellers.

“It is a fundamental and distinctive work in the world of mysticism, composed of a series of lectures delivered to his friends by Tehrani,” Jabrin explained. Originally written in Persian and translated into Arabic by the author’s son, the book offers detailed guidance on spiritual development.

In Basra, Al-Farahidi Street, known for its cultural vibrancy, witnessed a flurry of activities this weekend, attracting a large turnout of families, intellectuals, and readers. The street has become a focal point for those interested in new readings of religion and debates on secularism versus religious perspectives, signaling a shift in the intellectual discourse in the city.

Majid Abdul-Wahed, an artist and researcher, noted the varied interpretations of religious texts that are resonating with the public.

“There are new readings and interpretations of religion that are both drawing people in and pushing others away. It is important for anyone presenting new ideas to cite their sources, as we see some religious figures doing on social media, gaining significant followings,” Abdul-Wahed told 964media.

Poet and researcher Qassem Mohammed Ali highlighted the prevailing trend: “There is a clear bias toward religious books, especially those by authors who have lived through significant changes and events post-2003. The religious discourse is now entering a new phase of confrontation with secular ideas, overshadowing artistic, cultural, and literary interests to some extent.”

Ali Hussein, a representative of the Qiyadun team, emphasized the popularity of works by Mohammed al-Sadr, particularly “The Life of Sayyid, the Father” collected by Muqtada al-Sadr, which has topped this week’s sales.

Abu Fatima, supervisor at Dar Tajdid, pointed out that “The Jurisprudential Mind between Absolutism and Historicism” by Kamal al-Haydari is another top-seller, particularly among young readers.