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Rodaan / Al Galidi

Rodaan Al Galidi was born in southern Iraq in 1971 but doesn’t know the exact date. “In the desert birthdays aren’t celebrated,” he explains. But his large family including 10 brothers and sisters all celebrated theirs together on the 1st of July.

As a child he wanted to play the violin. His father bought him one but there was no music teacher in his village. He began to think he could play the violin with words and started writing poetry when he was eight years old. Years later he studied civil engineering in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil.

Asylum seeker
Al Galidi left Iraq and arrived in the Netherlands in 1998 as an asylum seeker. His story ‘February in Schipol’ is based on his personal experience. As an asylum seeker he was not permitted “to work, to travel or to think,” he notes on his website. So he taught himself Dutch and began to write again – for which he thanks the Dutch Immigration Service and the Ministry of Justice.

Soon he was writing columns for several Dutch newspapers and magazines. In 2002 he published a collection of them under the title ‘Dagboek van een ezel’ (Diary of an ass). In the same year he published his first collection of poetry ‘De fiets, de vrouw en de liefde’ (The bicycle, the woman and the love”). In 2003 he was nominated for the prestigious J.C. Bloem Prize.

He has written two novels which have yet to be translated into English. ‘Mijn opa, de president en de andere dieren’ (My grandfather, the president and the other animals) explores Iraq under Saddam Hussein through the eyes of a child. ‘Maanlichtmoerassen’ (Moonlight marshes) is about a woman who feels like a stranger in her own world.

In translation
His 2008 novel 'Dorstige Rivier' has recently been published in an English translation under the title 'Thirsty River' by Aflame Books – an independent UK publisher. The book documents three generations of a family in Iraq from the early twentieth century until the present. It was nominated for two major Dutch literary awards.

Vlaams Nederlands Huis de Buren Radio Netherlands The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature

This author's Radio Book:

Rodaan / Al Galidi
February at Schiphol

In his Radiobook, Al Galidi (who has recently started working under the name of Rodaan) describes his arrival at Schiphol airport. One winter's day in February 1998 his China Airlines plane lands at Schiphol. His journey, using a false passport, had started in Saigon in Vietnam and lasted for more than twenty hours, with a five-hour stop in Taipei and an hour in Bangkok. Every time the plane landed he prayed to God that it would not take off without him because then he would land up in prison. Once he reached the Netherlands however he found himself in a bureaucratic inferno.

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