On Translating Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea
Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea is separated into two parts: an older section, originally written and published in Iraq in 1995, and a newer section, written in America, about Dunya Mikhail’s flight from Iraq later that year, and her new life in Detroit. What is perhaps most interesting about the book is that, without the first half, the second half would most likely never have taken place. It was this older book which got the attention of the Iraqi censors and forced Dunya to flee for her life, first to Jordan and then to America.
While the two sections go together, they are also clearly distinct. The politics and satire of the older section must necessarily be guarded and often metaphorical, amost mystical. The new section, in comparison, explodes with a kind of controlled, clear rage, detailing the strange and violent situations of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Diary of a Wave is the reflection of a real life, as it was being lived, with the rippling moods of life, and the kind of artistic beauty that is meant, not to paint over with false perfection, but to delicately expose.