Iraqi novelist Haifa Zangana survived torture under
Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1970s and was subsequently forced into exile in
London. So even though she was by then observing from a distance, Zangana’s
fiction was not unaffected by what she calls the “mayhem and destruction”
brought to Iraq by the 9-year long US-led occupation. After 2003, Zangana,
already the celebrated author of three novels, including Women on a
Journey: Between Baghdad and London, stopped writing fiction and joined the anti-war
movement. Since then, she has written extensively about the huge toll of the
occupation on Iraqi civilians in articles for publications including the Guardian, and in non-fiction books
The Torturer in the Mirror, a collection of essays that questions the US’s justification
for torture after 9/11.
In this interview, she talks about when fiction became
insufficient for grasping the magnitude of a post-9/11 reality.