Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Kareem James Abu-Zeid, PhD, is a freelance translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world who translates from Arabic, French and German. His work has won numerous awards and accolades, including the 2022 Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation for the Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish’s book Exhausted on the Cross (NYRB Poets, 2021). He is also the author of The Poetics of Adonis and Yves Bonnefoy: Poetry as Spiritual Practice (Lockwood, 2019). His most recent translation is Chaos, Crossing by Olivia Elias (WorldPoetry Books, 2022). The online hub for his work is http://www.kareemjamesabuzeid.com.

The Book of Trivialities


In a series of evocative vignettes, celebrated Iraqi poet Majed Mujed lyrically traverses the fraught landscapes of beauty, longing and resistance in a country at war. The Book of Trivialities, originally written in the poet’s native Arabic, is beautifully rendered into English by award-winning translator Kareem James Abu-Zeid.

Intricately fusing political and personal histories, these powerful lyric verses speak to the universal, undying quest for freedom that knows no borders or bounds. A profound, powerful sequence of verse from a poet who once lived through the heart of a revolution and now lives for the revolutionary heart of love.

A unique bilingual book which reflects the collaborative and creative process of writers and translators working across cultures.

The Book of Trivialities is the third of the Solstice Stories, an innovative series designed to celebrate the small, the brilliant, and the beautiful.

Praise for The Book of Trivialities 

‘These poems, the bittersweet fruit of a malignant place and time, belie the lightness of their title by inviting us to remember the immensities behind them – war, suffering, love and death. Fleeting, disconnected, they feel like insights jotted on the run between here and there, Iraq and Ireland, by a man under pressure, anxious to leave behind him the gleanings of a life.’ — Harry Clifton

‘In these 25 flashes of insight, Majed Mujed searches for light among the darkness and either finds it or is made wiser for looking.’ — Rónán Hession

‘Majed Mujed’s The Book of Trivialities is a gem of a book; intimate, tender, thought-provoking and intricately crafted, these aphoristic fragments contain a wisdom and humour that marks them as anything but trivial. These are poems to revisit again and again for their sharp wit, and their revelatory power.’ — Jessica Traynor

‘Brevity is the soul of wit and Majed Mujed’s aphoristic poems, beautifully rendered by the ever-indispensable Kareem James Abu-Zeid, have a worldly wisdom to them, and his penchant for surrealist turns and scathing insights leaves sharp edges here and there, prompting us to return to them again and again.’ — André Naffis-Sahely