Sunday, 5 August 2018

#WorldReads - Five Books From Iraq

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well-known as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages. Or click the bookshop names to buy your own copy. (Bookshop links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.)

This month we are going to Iraq!

Iraq has an incredibly ancient culture which is reflected in its contemporary writings as well as its historic texts. I've included a collection of Viking-era travel writings alongside newly released novels. I've also tried to acknowledge the diversity of peoples who consider Iraq their homeland by including a Kurdish memoir. It's worth remembering that the present day Iraqi borders are basically the ones drawn on a map by English woman, Gertrude Bell, in the 1920s - 1000 years after Ibn Fadlan wrote of his travels.

Enjoy!

The President's Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli

The Book Depository (PB)
Wordery (PB)
Waterstones (PB)
Amazon (PB)

On the third day of Ramadan, the village wakes to find the severed heads of nine of its sons stacked in banana crates by the bus stop. One of them belonged to one of the most wanted men in Iraq, known to his friends as Ibrahim the Fated. How did this good and humble man earn the enmity of so many? What did he do to deserve such a death? The answer lies in his lifelong friendship with Abdullah Kafka and Tariq the Befuddled, who each have their own remarkable stories to tell. It lies on the scarred, irradiated battlefields of the Gulf War and in the ashes of a revolution strangled in its cradle. It lies in the steadfast love of his wife and the festering scorn of his daughter. And, above all, it lies behind the locked gates of The President's Gardens, buried alongside the countless victims of a pitiless reign of terror.


Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

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Wordery (PB)
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Amazon (PB)

From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, Hadi – a scavenger and an oddball fixture at the local cafĂ© – collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them a proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed.

Hadi soon realizes he's created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive. As the violence escalates and Hadi's acquaintances – a journalist, a government worker, a lonely older woman – become involved, the Whatsitsname and the havoc it wreaks assume a magnitude far greater than anyone could have imagined. An extraordinary achievement, at once horrific and blackly humorous, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures the surreal reality of contemporary Baghdad.


Being Kurdish In A Hostile World by Ayub Nuri

The Book Depository (PB)
Wordery (PB)
Waterstones (PB)
Amazon (used PB)

In Being Kurdish in a Hostile World, Ayub Nuri writes of growing up during the Iran-Iraq War, of Saddam Hussein's chemical attack that killed thousands in Nuri's home town of Halabja, of civil war, of living in refugee camps, and of years of starvation that followed the UN's sanctions. The story begins with the historic betrayal by the French and British that deprived the Kurds of a country of their own. Nuri recounts living through the 2003 American invasion and the collapse of Hussein's totalitarian rule, and how, for a brief period, he felt optimism for the future. Then came bloody sectarian violence, and recently, the harrowing ascent of ISIS, which Nuri reported from Mosul.


The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

The Book Depository (PB)
Wordery (PB)
Waterstones (HB)
Amazon (used PB)

Baghdad, 1991. In the midst of the first Gulf War, a young Iraqi girl huddles with her neighbours in an air raid shelter. There, she meets Nadia. The two girls quickly become best friends and together they imagine a world not torn apart by civil war, sharing their dreams, their hopes and their desires, and their first loves. But as they grow older and the bombs continue to fall, the international sanctions bite and friends begin to flee the country, the girls must face the fact that their lives will never be the same again.

This poignant debut novel will spirit readers away to a world they know only from the television, revealing just what it is like to grow up in a city that is slowly disappearing in front of your eyes, and showing how in the toughest times, children can build up the greatest resilience.


Ibn Fadlan And The Land Of Darkness

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Waterstones (PB)
Amazon (ebook)

In 922 AD, an Arab envoy from Baghdad named Ibn Fadlan encountered a party of Viking traders on the upper reaches of the Volga River. In his subsequent report on his mission he gave a meticulous and astonishingly objective description of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion and sexual practices, as well as the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation.

Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab travellers such as Ibn Fadlan journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their fascinating accounts describe how the numerous tribes and peoples they encountered traded furs, paid tribute and waged wars. This accessible new translation offers an illuminating insight into the world of the Arab geographers, and the medieval lands of the far north.


That's it for August's WorldReads from Iraq. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Iraqi-authored books! If you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!




Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

In September I will be highlighting five books by Polish authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recommendations! I keep debating about reading Frankenstein in Baghdad. I love the synopsis, but a few reviewers I trust hated it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I really liked Frankenstein In Baghdad, but I read it less as a Frankenstein retelling than as an inspired-by so I think that helped

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  2. Its always great to discover more about different countries through books!!! Great recs! ❤
    Haniya
    booknauthors.blogspot.com

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  3. That's an interesting idea to read books from all over.

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    1. It's the first thing I check about a book these days - can I add this author to my WorldReads!

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  4. These sound really interesting.

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  5. Have you read Nabeel's Song by Jo Tatchell? I really enjoyed it when I read it years ago.

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    1. I don't think I've read any Jo Tatchell. Thanks for the recommendation - I shall investigate :-)

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