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Naïm Kattan

Naïm Kattan was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1928.  For the small Jewish community of which he was part, life became very difficult as state sponsored harassment increased, culminating in the post 1951 emigration of many of the country’s Jews.  Kattan made his way to Montreal in 1954 and although Arabic is his first language, he has written, according to his own count, more than thirty books in French.  Few of these have been translated into English.  His fictional, semi-biographical trilogy (Adieu, Babylon; Les fruits arrachés; La fiancée promise) tells of a Jewish man’s childhood in Baghdad, university education in Paris, and establishment in Ottawa and Montreal following his arrival in Canada in 1954. Only the first two volumes have been translated into English.  Kattan is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Knight of the National Order of Quebec and a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. In recent years Kattan  divided his time between Montreal and Paris. He died on July 2, 2021 in Paris.



Translated by Antonio D’Alfonso.
Translation of Anniversaire.
Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions, 2019.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A Syrian writer living in Montreal, René Shems is also a specialist of Canadian history. After participating in a celebration organized in his honor, Shems decides to send letters to friends and colleagues. He also writers to his ex-wife, his daughter living in the U.S.A., and a past lover. Through this letters the reader meets a successful man. And yet once the letters sent, Shems questions his own success and works. Celebrations contains wonderful pages on culture shock, but also interesting thoughts on love, friendship, urban living, people, and cultures. Naim Kattan has produced a marvelous work of fiction and ideas.

Fiction (Autobiographical)

Farewell, Babylon

Translated by Sheila Fischman.
Translation of Adieu, Babylon.
Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1976.
PS9571 .A88 A7313

Publisher’s Synopsis



Translated by Norman Cornett & Antonio D’Alfonso.
Translation of Farida.
Montreal: Guernica Editions, 2015.
On order

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In this classic love story featuring passion, jealousy and murder, and set in pre-World War II Iraq, Farida, a Jewish woman and cabaret singer, struggles for survival and her freedom in a world on the edge of upheaval and on which falls the dark shadow of war.

The Neighbour and Other Stories book cover

Fiction (Short stories)

The Neighbour and Other Stories

Translated by Judith Madley and Patricia Claxton.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1982.
“Stories … selected from Dans le désert … and La traversée.”
PS9571 .A88 N4 1982

Publisher’s Synopsis


Fiction (Autobiographical)

Paris Interlude

Translated by Sheila Fischman.
Translation of Les fruits arrachés.
Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979.

Publisher’s Synopsis



Reality and Theatre

Translated by Alan Brown.
Translation of Le Réel et le théâtral.
Toronto: Anansi, 1972.
CB427 .K3813

Awards and Honours

1971 Prix France-Canada (winner)

Reading Writers Reading book cover


Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections

Z1039 .A87 R43 2006

Kattan, Naïm. “La lecture.” In Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections. Danielle Schaub, photographer and ed. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006, 124-125.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Dahab, F. Elizabeth. “From Baghdad to Montréal via Paris: Naim Kattan and His Multiple Reality.”In her Voices of Exile in Contemporary Francophone Canadian Literature. Lanhan: Lexington Books, 2009.
PS9089.5.I5 D35 2009

Greenstein, Michael. “Iraquébec: Naïm Kattan’s Trans-mimetic Diaspora.” In Textualizing the Immigrant Experience in Contemporary Quebec, eds. Susan Ireland and Patrice J. Proulx. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004, 117-126.
PQ3917 .Q3 T49 2004

Jama, Sophie. Les temps du nomade: itinéraire d’un écrivain: entretiens avec Naïm Kattan. Montréal : Liber, 2005.
PS9571.A872 Z467 2005

Miska, John. Ethnic and Native Canadian Literature : A Bibliography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990, 204-206.
PS8089.5.I6 Z76 1990

Xavier, Subhagnana. “The Economy of the Migrant Text: Theorizing a French Literature of Migration”.” Ph.D. diss., The University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2007.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses


Profile by Jacques Cotnam in the Canadian Encyclopedia online

Publisher Ekstasis Editions

Publisher Guernica Editions

Obituary by Janice Arnold from the Canadian Jewish News, July 6, 2021

Memorial by Pierre-Etienne Caza in L’actualités UQAM, July 6, 2021