From Baghdad to Montreal: a Jewish writer’s journey through identity


How can a Jew who was expelled or forced to leave the land of his birth stay connected to his birth culture? Can a Jew also be Arab? Naim Kattan feels he was 'born' in the three cities he has lived in: Baghdad, Paris and Montreal. Each has added a layer to the rich sediment of his identity and sense of belonging.

A native of Baghdad, where he attended secondary school and studied law, Naim Kattan received a French government scholarship in 1947 to continue his studies of literature at the Sorbonne. In 1954, he emigrated to Canada, where he took an active part in cultural life. Novelist, essayist, short-story writer and critic, Naim Kattan is the author of some 40 books translated into several languages. In 2004 he was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur for his contribution to francophone culture. This year, the book he is probably best known for, Adieu Babylone, was finally issued in English as Farewell Babylon.

Tuesday 6 March
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