Short Story Cycles

Experimentalism and Innovation in the Kurdish Short Story in Bahdinan Since 1991

Abstract Within the framework of experimentation and innovation in the short story, this study examines the most significant creative aspects of the Kurdish short story written in Kurmanji dialect in Bahdinan in Iraqi Kurdistan. A specific period was covered, starting in 1991, as this represented the genesis of a new era in Kurdish literature. Despite the short story having experienced a rapid renewal, there is still ongoing debate among scholars as to whether or not the creations in Bahdinan are modernist. Consequently, the current study was aimed at contributing to this debate, by assessing the experimental and innovative aspects of Kurdish short stories. Eight of the most experimental and innovative writers, whose works have played a crucial role during recent history, were chosen and their texts analysed within the frame of three phenomena of contemporary fiction, namely, mixing genre, intertextuality and the impact of memory of trauma events on the structure of the short story.

The study of the notion of genre in the Kurdish short story in Bahdinan, has led to the discovery that many writers have explored the genre concept via the phenomenon of crossing generic boundaries as a mean to writing experimental texts. That is, their texts have been formed by a combination of the formulated conventions of more than one literary genre. This has been achieved through the employment of different strategies, such as the short story cycle, short-short story cycle and the combination of many scenes. As a consequence of their dealing with big topics and short texts, the majority of their texts can be placed between the totality of the novel or epic and the limitation of the short story. The examination of the phenomenon of intertextuality as an aspect of the contemporary short story has elicited that several authors have transposed pre-existent literary and religious heritage practices for new purposes, such as to criticise society and many of its taboos. This has involved, in addition to meeting aesthetic requirements, intertextuality being employed to avoid religious, social and political censorship.

When tackling traumatic events, a number of Kurmanji writers have incorporated the influence of the nature of their memories into the structure of their texts. These texts are, on the whole, fragmented and presented new ways of narrating plots. This has been achieved through the adaption of various strategies, such as nightmares, dreams, repetition, images and scenes. According to the techniques that have been employed by Kurdish authors, their texts can be considered as ‘acting out’ or ‘working through’, while sometimes the two concepts are blurred. Despite Kurdish authors having presented both personal and collective trauma, they have placed greater emphasis on the psychological effects on individuals and society and on the fictional side rather than the factual historical context. Through exploring the three above mentioned literary phenomena in this study, a rich vein of experimentation and innovation in the Kurdish short story has been uncovered.

Finally, Kurdish writers in Bahdinan, whilst drawing on historical events to experiment in their short story creations, have also taken inspiration from other nations’ literary forms, especially, Western modernism. However, what they have produced through their innovative works is a body of literature that succinctly addressed the historical and cultural particularities of the Kurdish people. In addition, these short stories illustrate complex relations between politics, Kurdish identity and experience and literature.

from: Haji, N. I. (2016). Experimentalism and Innovation in the Kurdish Short Story in Bahdinan Since 1991.


Note: This dissertation discusses many interesting examples of relations between politics, Kurdish identity and experience and literature, where “literature” (also) encompasses the short story cycle form. The latter include cases with fiction that blurs the boundaries between forms.


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