Baghdad's 'Street of the Booksellers' honoured at Manchester's John Rylands library
"Hundreds of writers and artists prepare tributes to Iraq's historic books hub, Al-Mutanabbi Street, hit by car bomb in 2007
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here – gallery
It's said that when Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols in 1258, the river Tigris ran red one day with the blood of those killed, and black the next with the ink of their books. On 5 March 2007, many of Baghdad's books once again found themselves the victims of war when a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street, the city's historic literary district – home of booksellers, printers, and cafes, such as the famous Shabandar cafe, where Iraqi writers and intellectuals have been gathering for centuries.
On reading about the incident in the New York Times the next morning, Beau Beausoleil, a San Francisco-based poet and bookseller, felt an immediate connection: "I knew that if I was an Iraqi that's exactly where my store would be, among the other bookshops … As a poet that would be my cultural community." With the bomb, Beausoleil felt that the "tremendous pressure from the government and the media to see people as the other" was punctured; the distance collapsed..."—Ellie Violet Bramley, The Guardian UK
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