"I came from a house of silence. My name is Samira Al-Mana,
born in Iraq, in the port of Basrah. We moved while I was four
years old to a region called Zubair. It is desert, arid, its
people are conservative. They cover me up with a black
cloak called an Aba at the age of twelve.
Nothing can amuse a lonely little girl in Zubair. All
I have is rags from which I create faces and bodies of dolls,
trying to make them speak.
Sometimes I go with my family to the bustling, cosmopolitan
port city of Basrah, twenty minutes by car. All of a sudden
it all changes, endless greenery stretching before my eyes,
countless streams of glittering water, forests of palm trees.
I accept the contrast between the two regions as a norm, part
of the natural world and things. Since then I accept the whole
world as it is, with its contradictions and variations.
Now, instead of making dolls I use words to write my thoughts
in short stories and novels. The characters speak loud,
not worried or scared, not caring about being censored, as normally
practiced in my native country, and for sure the author put
on the black list, which happened to me eventually despite being
As I have lived in self-imposed exile in London since 1965,
with my memories of Iraq mixed with my life here, I have tried
to chronicle the lives of Iraqis in exile, especially women,
while at the same time appreciating and exploring the two countries
with their people and their differences. One thing I found in
common between the two countries is the loneliness which afflicted
me from time to time; somebody told me loneliness is universal."
Samira Al-Mana, 2012