An Iraqi in Paris
|Publisher||Van Leer Institute Press & Pardes Publishing|
|Year of Publication||2021|
“Here is the movie that has never been produced, which Samuel Shimon wanted to make since the day he left the Assyrian village of his birth in Iraq, in January 1979. And although he still cannot show us the pictures on the screen, he certainly can tell them, as only a sly and iconoclastic storyteller like him is able to. For instead of getting to Hollywood, as he dreamed all his life, he passes through torn and crazed Beirut and arrives in Paris penniless, wandering among the bars, metro stations, and other friends, and dreaming of writing the script about the deaf-mute baker who was his father and casting Robert De Niro in the main role. But in the end he contents himself with writing a cinematic autobiography about the film-loving child that he was in that wretched village.
An Iraqi in Paris is written, to a certain degree, in opposition to a long tradition of autobiographical writing in modern Arabic literature, by Arab authors who happened to be in Paris starting from the start of the nineteenth century, but he surpasses them all in honesty and candor.
Samuel Shimon, the Assyrian who does not compromise his name or his identity, is a superb storyteller, with an unhampered cinematic eye for tiny details, equanimity in the face of life’s vicissitudes on the sidewalks of Paris, and a special talent for acquiring and losing friends to an equal degree. The story of his childhood—the utter poverty and vague sparks of hope—conjures up flickering images of life on the margins for the Middle East’s minorities.”