Bachtyar ali

This article is about the Kurdish writer. For the Indonesian professor and ambassador, see Bachtiar Aly.

Bachtyar Ali Muhammed, also spelled as Bakhtiyar Ali or Bakhtyar Ali, (Kurdish: Bextyar Elî -بەختیار عەلی) Ali was born in the city of Slemani (also spelt as Sulaimani or Sulaymaniy), in Iraqi Kurdistan (also referred to as southern Kurdistan) in 1960. He is a Kurdish novelist and intellectual. He is also a prolific literary critic, essayist and poet. Ali started out as a poet and essayist, but has established himself as an influential novelist from the mid-1990s. He has published six novels, several poetry collections as well as essay books. He has been living in Germany since the mid-1990s (Frankfurt, Cologne and most recently Bonn). In his academic essays, he has dealt with various subjects, such as the 1988 Saddam-era Anfal genocide campaign, the relationship between the power and intellectuals and other philosophical issues. He often employs western philosophical concepts to interpret an issue in Kurdish society, but often modifies or adapts them to his context.


Ali finished his pre-university education in Slemani: Shaykh Salam primary school, Azmar secondary school and Halkawt preparatory school. He started studying Geology at the University of Sulaimani, and later Salah al-Din University in Arbil (Kurdish, Hawler:هەولێر), another Kurdish city, currently the capital of the Kurdistan Region. In 1983 he participated in a protest rally against Saddam's Ba'th Party, where he was wounded after protestors were shot at. In the same year he quit his studies due to political reasons. Ali speaks German, Arabic, Persian, and has a working knowledge of English.

Writing career

Based on interviews with the writer, he wrote his first prominent piece of writing in 1983, a long poem called Nishtiman "The Homeland" (Kurdish; نیشتمان). His first article, entitled "In the margin of silence; la parawezi bedangi da" in Pashkoy Iraq newspaper in 1989. But he only truly came to prominence and started to publish and hold seminars after the 1991 uprising against the Iraqi government, as the Kurds started to establish a de facto semi-autonomous region in parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and enjoy a degree of freedom of speech. He could not have published most of his work before 1991 because of strict political censorship under Saddam. Along with several other writers of his generation - most notably Mariwan Wirya Qani, Rebin Hardi and Sherzad Hasan - they started a new intellectual movement in Kurdistan, mainly through holding seminars. The same group in 1991 started publishing a philosophical journal - Azadi "Freedom" [Kurdish:ئازادی] -, of which only five issues were published, and then Rahand "Dimension" [Kurdish:رەهەند]. (

In 1992, he published his first book, a poetry collection entitled Gunah w Karnaval "Sin and the Carnival" [Kurdish:گوناه و کەڕنەڤال]. It contained several long poems, some which were written in the late 1980s. Prominent Kurdish poet Sherko Bekas immediately hailed him as a new powerful voice. His first novel, Margi Taqanay Dwam "The death of the second only child" [Kurdish:مەرگی تاقانەی دووەم], was published in 1997, the first draft of which was written in the late 1980s.


His novels can be categorized under the magic realism genre.

  • Margi Taqanay Dwam "The death of the second only child", 1997
  • Ewaray Parwana (Parwane's Evening), 1998
  • Duwahamin Henari Dunya (The Last Pomegranate of the World), 2002
  • Shari Mosiqare Spiyekan (The City of the White Musicians), 2006
  • Ghezelnus u Baxekani Xeyal (Ghazalnus and the Gardens of Imagination), 2008
  • Koshki Balinde Xemginekan (Mansion of the Sad Birds), 2009
  • Jemşîd xanî mamim: ke hemîşe ba legel xoyda deybird (My Uncle Jamshid Khan: whom wind was always taking), 2010
  • Keşti Friştekan 2012 ( The Angels' Ship )
  • Keşti Friştekan(2) 2013 ( The Angels' Ship )


  • Gunah u Kerneval; (The Sin and Carnival)
  • Koy Berhame Shi'riyekan; collection of complete works of poetry (1983–1998)
  • Bohimi u Esterekan ; (Bohemian and the Stars)
  • Ishkirdin le Daristanekani Firdewsda (Working in the Forests of Heaven)
  • Ta Matemi gul.. ta Xweni Firishte (Till the Funeral of Flower.. Till Angel's blood) Complete works. (1983–2004) Essay books
  • Iman u Jangawarani "Faith and its worriers"
  • Walam le rojgari Winbuni Pirsyarda (Answers in the age of absence of questions) "13 reviews with the writer"
  • Khwenari Kushinda
  • Sewi Seyem (Third Apple) 2009

External links

  • "A Kurdish imagination" - TLS
  • "Kurdish novel re-writes rules" - BBC
  • Perpetrators and Victims in Backtiar Ali's Kurdish Novel "The City of White Musicians"

See also

External links

  • Baxtyar Ali's Official website


  • University of Sulaymaniyah, College of Languages, Department of Kurdish Language. Lectures.
  • Persian Language of this Article.
  • Interviews with the writer
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