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Arab Americans

Sinan Antoon

Sinan Antoon

 Sinan Antoon (Arabicسنان أنطون‎‎), is an award-winning poet, novelist, scholar, and literary translator. He has been described as “. . .one of the most acclaimed authors of the Arab world. . .”[1] He is an associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.

“He was one of a coterie of dissident diasporic Iraqi intellectuals who opposed the 2003 US occupation of his homeland that led to the current post-colonial quagmire.”[2] Antoon was featured in the 2003 documentary film About Baghdad, which he also co-directed and co-produced.

His articles have appeared in The GuardianThe New York TimesThe Nation, and in pan-Arab dailies including al-Hayatal-Akhbar and as-Safir where he writes a weekly opinion column.

His poems and novels have been translated to nine languages. He is also a co-founder and co-editor of the e-zine Jadaliyya.[3]


Antoon was born in 1967 in Baghdad. He received his B.A. in English with distinction from the University of Baghdad in 1990 with minors in Arabic and Translation. He left Iraq in 1991 after the onset of the Gulf War and moved to the United States. He completed an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University in 1995.[4] In 2006, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Arabic and Islamic Studies.[5] His doctoral dissertation was the first study on the 10th century poet, Ibn al-Hajjaj and the genre of poetry he pioneered (sukhf).

Literary works


Antoon has published two collection of poetry in Arabic: Mawshur Muballal bil-Hurub (A Prism: Wet with Wars) (2003, Cairo) and Laylun Wahidun fi Kull al-Mudun(One Night in All Cities) (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2010). He has published a collection in English entitled The Baghdad Blues (Harbor Mountain Press, 2006).


Antoon has published four novels:

1. I`jaam (Beirut: Dar al-Adab, 2002 and later al-Jamal, 2014) was widely acclaimed in the Arab world and described as “the Iraqi novel par excellence.” It was translated to English by Rebecca Johnson and the author as I`jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody and published by CityLights Books in 2006. Other translations include German (Irakische Rhapsodie (Lenos), Norwegian, Italian, and Portuguese.

2. Wahdaha Shajarat al-Rumman (The Pomegranate Alone) (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2010) was translated by the author and published by Yale University Press in 2013 as The Corpse Washer and was longlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction. It won the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Literary Translation. The Argentinian writer Alberto Manguel described as “one of the most extraordinary novels he’s read in a long time.” The French translation (Seul le Grenadier) was published by Actes Sud in 2017 and won the 2017 Prix de la Litterature Arabe for the best Arabic novel translated to French in 2017.

3. Ya Maryam (Ave Maria) (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2012) was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (The Arabic Booker) and was translated to Spanish by Maria Luz Comendador and published by Turner Libros in May 2014 under the title Fragments de Bagdad. The English translation (by Maia Tabet) was published in 2017 as The Baghdad Eucharist by Hoopoe Books (AUC Press).

4. Fihris (Index) (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2016). Was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Honors and Awards