The Forests of Exile

If a story of migration and exile is staged along a sequence of cities, what then can a forest provide or suggest? In his published diary, Iraqi writer Farouq Yousef approaches the forest at the edge of the city and dares to discover an answer.

1 2 3 4 
 What would it mean to displace the city as a primary topos of Arabic exile and migration literature? The Iraqi poet and art critic Farouq Yousef embarks on such an endeavor in his 2007 diary, Nothing and Nobody: The Diary of an Arab in Northern Europe.1 The unconventional diary stages his migration from Iraq to Sweden in 2003 around the start of the Iraq invasion. Although categorized as a diary, Nothing and Nobody pushes the traditional boundaries of the genre through its varying form, themes, and approach to autobiography. Yousef’s different registers of writing, which besides the diary entries include descriptive prose and experimental poetry, collectively present the forest as being on the verge of overwhelming and redefining both individual subjectivity and shared urban spaces. It is in the forest where one might find solace in a distancing from the city and a reinvention 

in nature.

Nothing and Nobody won the 2006 Ibn Battuta Award for Travel Literature in the diary category before its 2007 publication. In extending this award, the London-based Dar Al Suwaydi’s award committee cited the work’s creative intermingling of self and geography as a response to the dual traumas of departure and arrival.

A diary written in Sweden, it reflects the feelings of a person who is fleeing both from the harsh realities of European exile and from the hell on earth of his place of birth toward the world of the self where inside and outside intersect.2

As the award committee noted, one of the most striking features of the diary’s narrative and poetic rendering of migration is how it weaves together the narrator’s inner emotional world and the forests and natural landscapes outside the town of Hultsfred in the Swedish province of Småland. The idea of the writer as the intersection between interior and exterior is introduced in the very opening scene of the diary, where the narrator surveys the new and disorienting landscapes that surround him and interiorizes them to render them familiar.

I am alone, an exile, and a stranger. The country in which I have ended up resembles islands floating in the sea. If seen from the air, they would resemble a labyrinth. This fills me with calm and reassurance because I view them as a mirror to my soul.3

In the diary, the forest takes on both powerful and intimate proportions as it encroaches upon urban spaces and upon the narrator’s psychological condition. Even as the forests of Yousef’s diary threaten to consume and eradicate the urban spaces that are built within them, they appear as a harmonious force. For the narrator, the forests that, at first, are as disorienting as a labyrinth are made more intimate and comforting when called upon to address his new harrowing condition as an exile and migrant in unfamiliar surroundings. Of course, the comfort that the narrator gains from the interaction between the exterior and the interior does not derive from any kind of newfound stability. The narrator remains “alone, an exile, and a stranger.” His isolated condition seems to stare back at him through the forested landscapes and silent lakes. Throughout the diary, the interchange between the narrator’s condition and the natural landscapes that surround him does not create a sense of rootedness; rather, it continually creates spaces of possibility from which migration and displacement can be reassessed.

The Arabic word for forest, ghaba, is derived from the root ÚêÈ, from which words pertaining to concealment or doubt derive. These include ghayb (a truth concealed to the eyes), ghaba aan (to be absent), and mughiba (abandonment, such as a woman abandoned by her husband). Similarly, ghaba suggests a space with foliage so thick that it conceals the people and things within it. In Nothing and Nobody, Yousef imagines the forest as a space that can heal his trauma because it can conceal, if not erase, the traumatic memories that induced it. As such, the forest offers an idealized and enclosed sanctuary not governed by political conflicts, boundary-making practices, and the policing efforts of “Fortress Europe.”

Although Nothing and Nobody is a diary, the intimacy of the experiences evoked in it are distinct from what the literary critic Philippe Lejeune has described as an “autobiographical pact” that would authenticate the connection between the writer and the narrator. In his preface to the diary, Yousef suggests that his writing is a distillation of a spiritual experience of trying circumstances.4

In a later diary published in 2008, A Feast of Air, Yousef likens diary writing to the well-known maxim on untranslatability, traduttore, traditore, which positions the translator as a traitor to the original language and text.5 Though readers may expect a faithful rendering of events in a diary, he suggests that the subject of his writing is “a man who resembles me and whom I see trailing my footsteps in the forest like a ghost.” Such a relationship between similarity and haunting defines the relationship between author and narrator in Nothing and Nobody. For these reasons, the first-person voice of this work is referred to in this article as the narrator rather than the author.

Yousef wrote Nothing and Nobody during the early stages of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and during the first ten months after his arrival in Sweden. The Iraq invasion and Yousef’s surroundings in Sweden were both new and developing. The disorientation of both settings informs the diary and the writer’s contemplation of the forest as a space of refuge. The book’s preface introduces an approach to aesthetics and trauma that permeates the writing that follows. Rather than giving specific accounts of the migration that brought him to Småland, Yousef explores the emotional weight of these experiences through a more conjectural exposition on how moments of heightened exposure to violence and death not only sharpen our ability to perceive beauty but also heighten our need for it. Further, he argues that an encounter with beauty creates a second loss when we are separated from it. Writing and other creative acts can be responses to the original trauma even as they attempt to recuperate the heightened sense of experiences with beauty. Yousef’s encounters with unbounded beauty, specifically within the deep forests of Sweden, trigger creative acts of literary rendering that might provide him the means to handle traumatic memory. Therefore, his approach to the forest and the beauty of nature is born from a context of trauma and migration. Immersing one’s loss in the forest, he suggests, can lead to forms of healing otherwise unavailable. In this vein, the ensuing diary and its poetic invocation of the forest grasp at those spaces that elude memory in the hope that they might become sites of healing and transformation.

Because of Nothing and Nobody’s unusual blending of various kinds of prose and poetry, it may be useful to describe the structure and content of the book. The first and longest of the four main sections, “The Diary Text,” is subdivided into several undated prose diary entries, most of which open with a short poem. Far from being a chronicle of daily activities or building a clear progression of events, each entry is organized around a theme drawn from the narrator’s experiences of the forests and lakes around Hultsfred and Småland. His abrupt change in geography prompts him to ruminate also on other landscapes that were the backdrop of the migrational journey that took him through Iraq and Egypt and still others that he has experienced only through literature and art. Although the entries in this first section are undated and untitled, each focuses on a specific theme. These include refuge in nature, cities and memory, the forest overtaking the city, and conversations with Iraqi painters in exile. The following two sections, though mostly in the form of short poems, are more recognizable as diary entries since each is dated and chronologically ordered. The first of these sections covers the period from March 9 to April 25, 2003, and the second December 12 to February 18, 2004. The final section is a collection of poetry. With titles such as “Musiqa Al Wahsha” (The Music of Alienation), “Kharait Al Uzla” (Maps of Isolation), and “Al Nisyan” (Forgetting), the poems are often extensions of themes already developed in previous sections of the book. Several poems are dedicated to other Arab writers and artists living in Europe. The disjointed experience of reading poetic prose, poems as diary entries, and diary entries in which landscapes come to provide outward expressions of interior states is an integral component of the book’s overall aesthetic.

Although unusual in form, Nothing and Nobody returns to one of the fundamental qualities of travel literature, namely the exploration of the relationship between the individual and his or her new surroundings. The diary presents reflections on the forests and natural spaces surrounding the small town of Hultsfred from the perspective of a displaced individual. As the narrator expounds upon themes of silence, possibility, and openness within aesthetic experiences, the vantage point is often that of the individual who is expelled, tareed (whether in his or her separation from God, the city, or community), or on the verge of being so.7 As a commentary on migration and displacement in a time of political conflict and war, the diary’s extended reflections on the forest and even on the city are a way of both coming to terms with the condition of the expelled and also seeking remedies within aesthetic experiences. In the diary, the intersection of the forest and the self is inherently an encounter with alienation outside human community.

Writing Migration Through the Forest

Nothing and Nobody is among a number of Arabic literary texts (novels, short stories, and poetry collections) from the past two decades that address various stages of migration (journeys, arrivals, sometimes returns or deportations) as a confrontation with such landscapes as forests, desolate and snowy plains, and dangerous oceans. In this kind of writing, even urban spaces can become tinged with menacing wilderness.8  The recurring literary gesture toward what lies outside human community is an extension and reformulation of the questions of belonging and exclusion so central to the genre of migration and exile literature. In many of these literary works, wilderness seems to denote the exclusions and “states of exception” produced by the boundary-building practices that aim to control migrants.9 While Nothing and Nobody also explores the trauma linked to forced migration through the trope of wilderness, its forests instead offer refuge from the less welcoming world of towns, cities, and nations. In contrast to cities and other inhabited spaces more easily defined by their limits and borders, less monitored spaces can offer fertile grounds for reimagining community and the meanings of migration.

Nothing and Nobody’s depictions of the forest and other spaces of wilderness are rooted in Youssef’s specifically defined context of migration. However, at different historical moments and in other cultural settings, discourses on wilderness have tended to return to the idea that wilderness is the natural or (a) moral space that is untouched or “not fully ‘infected’” by humans.10 More than as space outside the bounds of human coexistence, many conceptualizations of wilderness also project fear, longing, pining for lost harmony, and hopes for transformation. In Wilderness in Mythology and Religion, Laura Feldt advocates an inquiry into wilderness and questions a clear dichotomy between wilderness and human settings. While wilderness is often imagined as a space that lies beyond the categories of the human or society, she calls for a concerted and humanistic inquiry into how and why the idea of wilderness is imagined in particular contexts.11

Destabilizing the binaries of inhabited and uninhabited space, the metaphor of wilderness can create a space where memory and forgetting compete in the context of trauma and migration. One compelling example from a different literary work about migration is the 2010 novel Der falsche Inder (The Village Indian) by Iraqi-German writer Abbas Khider. The narrative begins and ends with a scene where the narrator purposes the act of telling as a way to counter a wilderness that threatens to encroach on his psyche.

Empty, like a never-ending desert, bare mountains or clear water.

Eerie too, like a forest after a violent storm. And my questions, loud, yet quiet; echoing, though unvoiced.

This feeling lasts for a few minutes – or is it more than that? It’s not the first time I’ve felt so disoriented. It’s been like this for a few years now. I worry, sometimes, that there’ll come a day when I won’t find my way back out. Of this madness. This desert in my head.12

For the narrator of the novel, the ability to turn a string of events – in this case a series of clandestine journeys between Iraq, Libya, Turkey, Greece, and Germany – into a series of malleable narratives is a survival skill.13 Writing serves as a way to guard against amnesia and a means to keep the desert or forest-like emptiness at bay. These creative acts of remembering migration – where remembering means rethinking and telling in a new way – seem to guard against a fear that forgetting may also foreclose future narratives.

Like The Village Indian, Nothing and Nobody also begins with the perennial link between writing and survival. “With a line of smoke, I trace imaginary lines on the page of the sky into an image that assures me that I am still alive.”14 However, unlike the narrative process in The Village Indian where wilderness must be kept at a distance through writing and rewriting a story of clandestine migration, the narrator of Nothing and Nobody embraces the wilderness as a space where he can determine his own means of survival through salutary forms of forgetting.

As the title of the diary Nothing and Nobody suggests, the text seeks those spaces that are open, empty, and lonely. In addition to being a space of marginality and forgetting, wilderness is often a fluid space replete with transformative possibilities where self, trauma, and even hospitality can be explored. Instead of seeking a narrative that can keep the wilderness separate from his own condition, Yousef approaches the forest as a space that can heal by erasing memories, language, and the idea of community.

In the forest, the narrator seeks the experience of self-annihilation. He compares his walks in the forest to a kind of initiation into a new language that offers its own modes of being. The language of the forest runs counter to that of community and intersubjectivity. Although the culture of the forest is described in textual terms, to enter into the forest is to encounter a text without clearly assigned signifiers, what the narrator later refers to as a nass maftuh (open text).15 Thus in a series of textual moves that destabilize the book’s stated diary form, Yousef seeks out language that undoes rather than fixes subjectivity. These forms of self-annihilation through forgetting and deletion link to Yousef’s conceptualization of the forest.

Nature doesn’t speak; it acts. It is impossible for us to describe nature’s actions without resorting to its language. And nature’s language is enigmatic [...] it is a language that deletes rather than adds, a language of alienation rather than familiarity. It does not seek mastery over things as much as it seeks to transport them toward the strange and bewildering. During each new venture into the forest I feel that I am learning more of this defiant language’s alphabet through its silent temperament.16

In stark contrast to the context of mass displacement and migration in which the diary was written, the forest of Nothing and Nobody offers unconditional serenity to all who enter: “nobody has the right to expel you or drive you far away.”17 The idealized absence of human authority over the forest is soon translated into a mapping of infinite hospitality. “Nature is mother,” the narrator reflects. “There is nothing in nature that expels. If you knock on nature’s door you won’t be able to count the number of doors that open before you.”18 This unconditional hospitality creates a sense of borderlessness, a condition contrary to experiences of displacement and border security that result from political conflicts and war.

The healing properties of the forest, in particular, are aligned with an idealized version of human nature vested in the human qua individual held in contrast to the antagonism that haunts human communities. The loneliness and alienation afforded by the forest are the means by which one can escape conflicts that arise in cities.

The generosity of al tabiaa (nature) returns humanity to its own fitra (nature) […] It reminds us of those elements in life that represent hidden possibilities of harmony, an idea that is often forgotten in the midst of the zeal of conflicts where humanity finds the possibility of returning to tawahhush (a wild state) and diminishing itself. It seems that nature has wings that give it the capability to soar far away from scenes of wretchedness and suffering of our hell on earth.19

An immersion in wilderness can counter the excesses of human “wildness,” at least on a psychic level. Just as the forest becomes privileged over the city, the individual, in this case, becomes privileged over community.

Nothing and Nobody both builds on and departs from the place that Småland occupies in the Swedish collective imagination. The natural landscapes of Småland have often been romanticized and depicted as idyllic – Småländsk idyll – and more specifically as a lost pastoral lifestyle. According to cultural critic Göran Hägg, Swedish literary works from the 1940s that referenced lost bucolic utopias were closely tied to the project of creating a comprehensive national welfare state.20 These nostalgic works evade a history of deep poverty and resulting migration before and during Sweden’s industrialization. In the mid to late nineteenth century, a significant portion of Småland’s population fled poverty, hunger, and religious persecution and settled in the United States. The narrator of Nothing and Nobody alludes to this history, stating that the region from which so many departed has now become a refuge to migrants from other places.21 However, just as Småland has come to signify the idyllic spaces of an imagined past in many Swedish discourses on national identity, so does Nothing and Nobody forge a distinct and defamiliarizing narrative of this region.

Cities Against the Force of Nature

Yousef’s characterization of the forest necessitates musings on the city as a foil. The urban centers in the narrator’s surroundings and the cities of his imagination and memory, like the forest, exist relationally with the self. However, in contrast to the all-encompassing space of nature, the narrator emphasizes the ways that cities are destined for destruction and erasure, materially as well as in our memories.22

Cities are impermanent and fleeting in the grand schemes of history, but what about in our own relationships with them? The narrator reflects on cities as “stations” on a life journey. Even these individual encounters with urban spaces carry this fleeting quality. He finds the cities that he has passed through are slipping out of his memory. The cities that remain, he suggests, are the ones whose “dust” sticks to your shoes, suitcases, and soul, not the ones that you consciously try to preserve in your memory.23 “Some cities are smooth; they leave no trace on those who pass through. Other cities raise a tumult in the souls of their visitors, filling their bodies with their fragments.”24 This visceral experience of the city stands in contrast to the spiritual encounters with the forest.

Although the diary ventures into different forms of poetic expression, it never specifically mentions the distinctly modernist lineage of poetry that depicts the city as a space of personal and collective alienation. At times, Nothing and Nobody’s embrace of the forest and its mistrust of the city seem to conjure the work of such poets as Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, and Nazik Al Malaika, in which the city takes center stage and embodies the alienation and ills of modern existence.25 Literary critic Yair Huri suggests that the city is a locale of “ambivalence” for such poets; the city represents for them a confluence of cruelty and possibility.26 The tension between alienation and possibility, Huri argues, leads to distinct ideas of creativity and transformation. To confront the city with all of its contradictions becomes an opportunity to see and create the world anew. Nothing and Nobody shares this ambivalence toward the city as a place that produces cruelty and expulsion. However, the diary’s emphasis on the impermanence of cities as compared to the resilience of the forest creates a much different dynamic.

Yousef emphasizes that cities are “creations of the imagination” and therefore acts of literature and art.27 In this vein, he ponders a series of authors whose oeuvres focus on re-creating the cities that reside in their memories. Citing the Italian novelist Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1972), the Alexandria-born Greek writer Constantine Cavafy’s poetry on Alexandria, and Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet (1957–1960), Yousef describes how cities can inhabit our imaginations and leave a mark on the psyche. However, unlike the forest, the city for Yousef harbors a perpetual threat of expulsion. “Cities,” he says, “do not always lead her lost children to themselves, but sometimes can be the immediate cause of their flight. Isn’t it true that there are cities that expel?”28 In the less explicitly cosmopolitan (but no less global) context of migration to Sweden, nature is imagined as a remedy for the city’s excesses and propensity to force its populations out.

In contrast to the default perception that urbanization poses a threat to forests and other natural spaces, Nothing and Nobody characterizes the forest as an entity that overwhelms and threatens the city. In one summer scene in the diary, the narrator observes the inhabitants of his town disappearing to “unknown places.” He describes the disappearance of the town’s inhabitants and the slow and gentle encroachment of nature upon the city center as an act of erasure.29He compares the abandoned town center, devoid of its former signs of life, to al atlal, the proverbial ruins of the abandoned encampment.

Now it resembles atlal (ruins). I do not mean the kharaib (ruins) before which the ancient Arab poet composed his poems in anguish because they reminded him of the people who used to live there. Today’s atlal are suitable for habitation and for strolling around, but the absence of humans returns them to their original state: gesturing toward a tolerable life.30

Although nature appears to overwhelm the town, the threat appears benign, even salutary. If the text presents an ongoing rumination on the binary of forest/town, it reverses the expected hierarchy by making the forest the privileged term. Nothing and Nobody suggests that the forest’s encroachment on the town, indeed this realignment of the relationship between town and forest, a more synthetic one, can create a more livable space.

A Diary of Migration

The narrator of Nothing and Nobody states that his exile is a personal decision. However, despite his admission of voluntary displacement and the diary’s treatment of migration as a solitary struggle, a context of mass migration shapes the narrative. When Nothing and Nobody was published in 2007, the Iraqi refugee crisis was at its height. The mass displacement of Iraqis during this period brought international debate on “burden sharing” to the fore. European media outlets covered public discussion about which countries should be responsible for hosting those who had been displaced by the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent war. At the time of Nothing and Nobody’s publication, these debates were raging while shifts in European asylum policies were well under way. European Union initiatives had already mandated the standardization and harmonization of migration and asylum policies among member countries. In theory (though, of course, never in practice), asylum would be granted according to the same criteria across the EU. What followed can be likened to a “race-to-the-bottom” scenario where it became more difficult overall for refugees to find asylum in any given member country. In particular, the governments of Sweden and Germany, two nations that previously had maintained more liberal immigration policies, drastically restricted the number of migrants offered asylum during this period.31 In both cases, EU harmonization meant a restricting of asylum policy. As migration scholar Peo Hansen argues, leadership in both nations worked diligently to counter the quite accurate perception that their asylum policies had been relatively generous.32

These contexts of mass migration and displacement are not rendered explicitly in the diary, but they do shape its writing. For one, Nothing and Nobody’s depiction of the forest as an all-welcoming space and as a space in which one may withdraw from shared modes of communication relies on recurring anxieties about spaces that exclude and displace. In this case, these anxieties become associated with the city and the idea. The solitary experiences that the narrator describes in the forest are therefore not divorced from the larger contexts of border security and war. The narrator’s repeated ventures into the forest in search of self-annihilation and his invitation to let the forest overwhelm his own subjectivity and the existence of the town must be understood in relation to the way that an immediate context of war and migration resonate in the text.

What do we make of the diary’s privileging of the forest over the city in this context of migration? What does it mean to invite the forest to shape language, subjectivity, and the city? From a diary that unconventionally forwards rewriting the self through erasure and reconceiving the possibility of refuge in the forest, it is worth asking, what lies beyond writing such an immediate response to trauma? As Yousef’s comments in the preface of the book suggest, the forest cannot promise anything more than forgetfulness.33 Is this simply escapism, a fantasy that temporarily negates the historical setting in which the book was written? It is perhaps worth considering the idea that the forest of Nothing and Nobody – the forest of silence, refuge, and possibility – is imagined as a liminal and intermediate space in a process of becoming. As the first of Yousef’s string of texts on exile and diaspora, the diary can be read as a search for the seeds of transformation that could anchor his writing in a new space, even if travel and migration have taken place in a harrowing context.34

Nothing and Nobody thus produces a compelling reworking of the concepts of belonging and exclusion. In many ways, it is a text of its time, shaped by the precariousness of global migration. One of the “contradictions of globalization” is that capital and information flows have become unencumbered by borders while at the same time states attempt to manage and police the movement of people across those same borders. At a time when the global world is creating new modes of belonging and exclusion, Nothing and Nobody plays with and transforms the basic categories that we use to understand these concepts. Viewed through the lens of the forest, the city becomes an unstable site of belonging. By reversing and complicating the forest/city binary, Nothing and Nobody invites us to view our own categories for understanding community anew, maybe even from a bewildering site of exile.


1. Farouq Yousef, La Shay La Ahad: Yawmyat Fi Al Shamal Al Urubi (Beirut: Al Muassassa Al Arabiyya Lil Dirasa wa Al Nashr, 2007). The book cover features the English translation of the title as Nothing and Nobody: The Diary of an Arab in Northern Europe. The text excerpted in this article was translated by this articleís author.

2. Yousef, La Shay La Ahad, 7.

3. Ibid, 21.

4. Ibid, 17.

5. Farouq Yousef, Maida Min Hawa: Yawmiyat wa Taamulat Fi Al Manfa (Sfax: Dar Amal Lil Nashr

wa Al Tawzi, 2008)

6. Ibid, 10.

7. Yousef, La Shay La Ahad, 49.

8. See, for example, Mahi Binebine, Cannibales (Paris: Editions Fayard, 1999); Janan Jasim Halawi, Hawa Qalil (Beirut: Dar Lil Nashr wa Al Tawzi, 2009); Youssef Fadel, Hashish (Casablanca: Nashr Al Fanak, 2000); Rawi Hage, Cockroach: A Novel (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009); and Ibrahim Ahmad, Baad Maji Al Tayr: Qisas Min Al Manfa (Budapest: Sahara, 1994).

9. Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, trans. Kevin Attell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

10. Laura Feldt, ìWilderness in Mythology and Religion,î in Wilderness in Mythology and Religion: Approaching Religious Spatialities, Cosmologies, and Ideas of Wild Nature, ed. Laura Feldt (Boston: Walter De Gruyter, 2013): 7.

11. Ibid, 1.

12. Abbas Khider, The Village Indian, trans. Donal McLaughlin (New York: Seagull Books, 2013): 1.

13. The novel complicates the idea of a narrator since the individual who begins to narrate the novel soon finds a collection of narratives of ìhisî story while traveling on a bus.
14. Yousef,
La Shay La Ahad, 21.

15. Ibid, 32.

16. Ibid, 26.

17. Ibid, 22.

18. Ibid, 42.

19. Ibid, 42.

20. Gˆran H‰gg, Svensk historia 1945ñ1986: V‰lf‰rdsÂren (Stockholm: Wahlstrˆm & Widstrand, 2005), 59.

21. Yousef, La Shay La Ahad, 63.

22. Ibid, 29.

23. Ibid, 30.

24. Ibid, 30.

25. Yair Huri, ìSeeking Glory in the Dunghills: Representations of the City in the Writings of Modern Arab Poets,î Archiv Orient·lnÌ 73 (2005): 186; and Hala Khamis Nassar, ìExile and the City: The Arab City in the Writing of Mahmoud Darwish,î in Mahmoud Darwish: Exileís Poet, ed. Hala Khamis Nassar and Najat Rahman (Northampton: Olive Branch Press, 2008): 194.

26. Huri, ìSeeking Glory in the Dunghills,î 186.

27. Yousef, La Shay La Ahad, 31.

28. Ibid, 31.

29. Ibid, 74.

30. Ibid, 74.

31. Since the early 1990s, an increasingly large community of Iraqis, including many writers, has made its home in Sweden. Farouq Yousef migrated in the period immediately preceding the Iraq War; others arrived in Sweden because of ongoing political turmoil and economic sanctions in Iraq and as a result of diminishing refugee opportunities in Eastern Bloc countries for Iraqi Communist Party members.

32. Peo Hansen, ìPost-national Europe – without Cosmopolitan Guarantees,î Race and Class 50 (2009): 25.

33. Yousef, La Shay La Ahad, 18.

34. His later books include 2007ís A Refugee Followed by Disappearing Lands (Laji Tatbaahu Bilad Takhtafi), a book on the Iraqi diaspora, and 2008ís A Feast of Air: A Diary and Reflections on Exile (Maida min Hawa: Yawmiyat wa Taamulat Fi Al Manfa). Like Nothing and Nobody, A Feast of Air focuses more intently on the narratorís interaction with Sweden. In 2011, he published Silent Fruit (Fakiha Samita), which comments on exile and nostalgia by representing Iraq as a woman for whom the exile longs. Sleeping Paradise (Firdaws Naim) was published the same year. 

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 Johanna Sellman is Middle East Studies Librarian and Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University where she writes on contemporary Arabic literature of migration.
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Forest on the island of Sirkön, Urshult, Kronobergs län, Sweden, 482 kilometers south of Stockholm Photograph by Katrin Greiling
Outside the city of Kalmar län on the southern east coast of Sweden, 395 kilometers south of Stockholm Photograph by Katrin Greiling
The moss in the forest between Urshult and Tingsryd, Kronobergs län, Sweden, 503 kilometers south of Stockholm Photograph by Katrin Greiling
Forest close to Karatorp, Urshult, Kronobergs län, Sweden, 488 kilometers south of Stockholm Photograph by Katrin Greiling
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