The Dark Ship


Author: Sherko Fatah
Translated by Martin Chalmers

9780857428394 | PB | pp. 437 | 2021 | Seagull Books

In clear, confident language with an epic flow, Fatah describes the wanderings of the young Iraqi, Kerim, whose flight into the west turns into an adventure-filled journey.

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Growing up in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a young Kurdish boy named Kerim has ample opportunity to witness the murderous repression that defined the era for thousands of Iraqis. In Sherko Fatah’s The Dark Ship, we experience an extraordinary new voice in fiction, which tells the story of the kind of trauma and striving that leads a man from religious extremism to a vain hope for redemption.

This reader follows Kerim from the fading memories of his childhood to his life running his family’s roadside restaurant. Captured by jihadists, he reluctantly joins the group, and grows fascinated with their charismatic leader. After a narrow escape from martyrdom and a difficult passage to Europe, Kerim, tormented by memories of his violent past, is unable to find his place in his new country. Turning yet again to his faith, he finds solace in the fundamentalist mosques of his new city. But it isn’t long before he learns once again that he cannot escape his history, his culture, or his own doubts.

At once a thriller and a political narrative, The Dark Ship tracks the Kurdish experience from the war-torn mountains of northern Iraq to the bureaucracies and mosques of Berlin in a gripping journey across land and water, through ideology and faith.

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Sherko Fatah
Translated by Martin Chalmers





Year of Publication:





Seagull Books





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About the Contributors

Sherko Fatah was born in East Berlin and grew up there before moving to the West. He received the Aspekte Literature Prize for The Border Country (2001). The German-language edition of The Dark Ship, his fourth novel, was nominated for the German Book Prize in 2008.

Martin Chalmers (1948–2014) was a translator and editor living in Berlin, who translated works by Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Alexander Kluge, among others. In 2004, he won the prestigious Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of The Lesser Evil: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer, 1945–59. He was married to author and translator Esther Kinsky.


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