Samira at home
Samira Al-Mana
سميرة المانع
Iraqi novelist and writer



"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 abroad.

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   


Having left her native Iraq in 1965, Samira continues to write while living in England, despite having been placed on Saddam Hussein's blacklist.

Over the years she has been involved in many events and activities, including:

In 1985, Samira and her husband Salah Niazi launched a literary magazine Alightirab Al-Adabi ('Literature in exile'), which ran from then until 2002. 

The International Writing Program, Iowa City University, U. S. A, for three months in 1990

International Author Festival in Toronto, Canada, where she read one of her short stories

Participating for three days in a conference in Morocco, organised by Municipal of Fez, the Creative Women Organisation & the Enesco ,  about “ Women And The Novel”.

Attending Amnesty International's International Human Rights event in London, 2008

Samira at Amnesty Conference