Publisher works to bring Kurdish literature to the world stage

Publisher and poet Alan Pary reads his work before an audience. (Photo: Alan Pary/Social Media)
Publisher and poet Alan Pary reads his work before an audience. (Photo: Alan Pary/Social Media)


Alan Pary, a local publisher and poet in the Kurdistan Region is tirelessly working on several projects with a united theme; to bring the Kurdish literature to the world stage.

He reads one of his poems in Kurdish for an audience at a Literature Exchange Event in Aarhus, Denmark. Immediately afterward, spectators then clearly begin to enjoy his work as he repeats it again, but translated into Danish.

Literature Exchange is an international festival dedicated to the written word that spans 10 days (June 10-21) and is jointly organized by Pary’s publishing company, which he named Nusyar, as well as The Danish Arts Foundation, The Nordic Culture Fund, and Det Poetiske Bureau.

The event features works of other Kurdish authors such as Dara Kurdo, Arsalan Chalabi, and Thorvald Berthelsen, plus 18 other Kurdish poets and several Danish wordsmiths reading their own creations.

“That link is what we are working for,” Pary told Kurdistan 24. “That is the bridge we want to build between Kurdistan and Europe.”  

A poet, translator, and publisher, Pary has established Nusyar to publish Kurdish literary works, to translate Kurdish masterpieces into European languages, and make great works of European literature available to Kurdish audiences as well.

Since the young printing house’s establishment in February 2019, Nusyar has published 21 titles of some of the finest Kurdish novels, short stories, and poems. The firm has offices in Kurdistan’s major cities of Erbil, Sulaimani, Duhok, and Kalar. It operates in Europe too, maintaining its main office in Copenhagen.

Nusyar is more than a publisher, Pary says, it is also a cultural project aimed at giving a platform to new, homegrown voices on the international stage. It strives to introduce Kurdish literature to the world.

Nusyar’s National Award for an author’s first book is among other projects to serve Kurdish literature, he added. It was begun to discover new voices of prose or poetry in Kurdistan. Last year, three young authors won the award: Kiaksar Ahmed for his debut novel, Jegr Bakgtyar for his debut collection of short stories, and Nawras Mohammed for her debut collection of poems. The young authors said they have enjoyed the publicity and reception they received from local readers.  

The second round of the publisher’s National Award, Pary revealed, is being processed now. Dozens of young voices have submitted their works and will be peer-reviewed by a number of experienced judges after which one work from each genre (novel, poem, or short story) will be selected. The winners will be announced in a ceremony in October across major Kurdistan Region cities.

Nusyar is run like a professional publisher, Pary says. Its books have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), are available on Amazon, and are rated on the popular Goodreads website. It secures the copyright of any book it translates and publishes. Despite their tight budget, he vows, Nusyar will never violate copyright rules.

Translating Kurdish masterworks into English and other foreign languages is another attempt by Nusyar to draw the international readers’ attention to Kurdish literature. Mrovi Harzan (Life Enders in English, also published by Nusyar), the first Kurdish science fiction novel, hit markets early this year and Nusyar is in contact with international publishers to publish it in Danish, English, Turkish, Persian, Spanish, and Arabic.

Regarding its output of international bestsellers translated into Kurdish, too.  This year, it translated and published “When Death Takes Something From you Give It Back: Carl’s Book”, an international bestseller written by Naja Marie Aidt that was also translated to several other languages.

“We introduced Naja’s voice to the Kurdish readers,” Pary explained. “Even the author, Naja, sent a message through us to her Kurdish readers, thanking them.”   

There are up to 20 other local publishers in Kurdistan, printing roughly 300 books a year. Due to budgetary constraints, his company prints only eight books annually. “The quality of our books are unique in terms of content and design. Readers are satisfied and happy with our books.”

Kani Khidir, a Kurdish reader based in Erbil, has bought all 21 books published by Nusyar. “The content of the books is rich, their design is nice and their price is affordable,” she told Kurdistan 24.

In another project scheduled for a fall release, Pary is a contributing editor for an anthology of Kurdish poetry to be released by Det Peotiske Bureau. The 700-page book will include works of 70 Kurdish poets presenting the original Kurdish versions, side-by-side with their Danish translations.

“The anthology of Kurdish poems in the Danish language is an attempt to clean and correct the name of Kurdish people,” Pary says. “People in the world know about Kurdish people through wars and violence, but this project tells the world that Kurdish people are not violent and have a lot of literature to share with the world.”

In the Literature Exchange event, Pary tells the international audience that his printing house plans to provide both local and international readers with more Kurdish literary works in the coming years, focusing on novels, short stories, and poems.

Editing by John J. Catherine