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Talking about Short Story Club: May 2014

JARREDMCGINNISWord Factory regular, and short story writer, Jarred McGinnis provides a look inside the Word Factory Short Story Club.

The group enjoyed Hassan Blasim’s short story The Iraqi Christ very much – and the ending, specifically, fostered a lot of discussion. The direct and unadorned language was the perfect way to convey the tragedy: these men “scampered like rats”, were “frightened like ducklings” and “fought comic-book wars like sheep”.

Everyone agreed the ambiguous ending was preferred to a tidy moralising parable, but the group would love to hear from the author about his ideas for the ending. The debate focused on whether Daniel’s premonitory powers failed him or were ignored by him. Isn’t his bargain a poor one?

His mother will suffer long, terribly and alone after Daniel gets the “salvation” he desired. One of the most interesting interpretations was that this “sacrifice” that Daniel made was of course a bad one. That is the nature of religious sacrifice throughout history. The genocide of entire Native American tribes was the result of Christian “sacrifice”. Today in Syria, at the moment you are reading this, Muslims are being murdered because of another Muslim’s “sacrifice”.

The word “terrorist” was first used to describe the “sacrifices” made by Zionists trying to establish the State of Israel. In Blasim’s story, innocent people in the restaurant died, his mother will not fare well alone, or at the hands of the lapsed suicide bomber, even worse at the mercy of the people who compelled the suicide bomber in his mission. So it goes.

Thank you very much, Hassan, for an incredible story.

Our associate editor, Zoe Gilbert, also posted on her blog about this month’s Short Story Club.