Samuel Shimon was born into an Assyrian family in 1956 in Al-Habbaniyah, Iraq. He left Iraq in 1979 to go to Hollywood and become a film-maker, and got as far as Damascus, Amman, Beirut, Nicosia, Cairo and Tunis. In 1985 he settled in Paris, where he started the small press Gilgamesh Editions. In 1996 he moved to London, where he has lived ever since.
He co-founded Banipal magazine, and is currently its Assistant Editor. In 2000, he and Margaret Obank (co-founder and editor of Banipal) edited A Crack in the Wall, poems by sixty contemporary Arab poets.
His autobiographical novel An Iraqi in Paris, was published in Arabic and in English translation in 2005. The Arab press described it as “unique in Arabic language – reminds us of Henry Miller” and “one of the gems of autobiographical writings in the modern period – the era of the image and the revolution of the spectacle”, and “a manifesto of tolerance”. The Times Literary Supplement described it as “a forgiving and powerful book” and The Independent as “an Arabic answer to Miller’s Tropic of Cancer”.
An Iraqi in Paris was long-listed for the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award It was nominated for the Long List of the 2006 Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Literary Reportage 2006, but as expected for what is clearly a novel, failed to go further. A Swedish edition (Alhambra Förlag) was published in 2007, and a French edition is forthcoming from Actes Sud in 2008.
Samuel is the founder editor of the most popular literary website in Arabic www.kikah.com. A profile in the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung in 2003 described him as “the Initiator” and “a tireless missionary for literary matters”.