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Frankenstein in Baghdad

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
Jan 23, 2018 | 288 Pages
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    Jan 23, 2018 | 288 Pages

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    Jan 23, 2018 | 288 Pages

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“In the 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, her monster has turned up in countless variations—but few of them have been as wild or politically pointed as the monster in Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad.” —Gregory Cowles, The New York Times

“Intense and surreal . . . Assured and hallucinatory . . . funny and horrifying in a near-perfect admixture . . . Saadawi blends the unearthly, the horrific and the mundane to terrific effect. . . . There’s a freshness to both his voice and vision. . . . What happened in Iraq was a spiritual disaster, and this brave and ingenious novel takes that idea and uncorks all its possible meanings.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Powerful . . . Surreal . . . Darkly humorous . . . Cleverly conscripts a macabre character from a venerable literary work in the service of a modern-day cautionary fable . . . An excellent English translation.” —Chicago Tribune

“A remarkable achievement, and one that, regrettably, is unlikely ever to lose its urgent relevancy . . . Surreal, visceral and mordant . . . An acute portrait of Middle Eastern sectarianism and geopolitical ineptitude, an absurdist morality fable, and a horror fantasy . . . Strange, violent, and wickedly funny.” —Sarah Perry, The Guardian

“Come for the fascinating plot; stay for the dark humor and devastating view of humanity.” —The Washington Post

“Fascinating . . . Strikes a feverish balance between fantasy and hard realism . . . The fabric of the city’s neighborhoods couldn’t be more sharply etched. . . . Saadawi . . . delivers a vision of his war-mangled city that’s hard to forget.” —The Seattle Times

“The [Frankenstein] conceit proves surprisingly apt. . . . Saadawi’s novel . . . is more than an extended metaphor for the interminable carnage in Iraq and the precarious nature of its body politic. It also intimately depicts the lives of those affected by the conflict [and] offer[s] a glimpse into the day-to-day experiences of a society fractured by bloodshed.” —The Economist

“What do you get if you cross the spiritualism of Lincoln in the Bardo with the sci-fi-cum-action-movie oomph of The Terminator? Possibly something resembling Frankenstein in Baghdad. . . . It’s as much of a crossbreed as its ghoulish hero—part thriller, part horror, part social commentary. . . . Saadawi . . . captures the atmosphere of war-torn Baghdad with the swiftest of penstrokes, and picks out details that make the reader feel, and even taste, the aftermath of the explosions that pepper the book.” —Financial Times

“Hallucinatory and hilarious . . . Surprising, even jolting . . . Saadawi’s satirical bite . . . means that any jokes come garlanded with darkness. Laughter often catches in the throat. . . . Jonathan Wright’s elegant and witty translation . . . reaches for and attains bracing pathos. . . . This remarkable book [is] funny and disturbing in equal measure.” —The Observer (London)

“Darkly delightful . . . A lively portrait of a teeming, cosmopolitan Baghdad . . . The humor is sometimes laugh-out-loud. . . . Jonathan Wright’s superb translation conveys the novel’s contemporary, urban edge as well as its light and witty style. . . . [The] novel moves as much as it entertains.” —New Statesman

“Ingenious . . . Hugely engaging and richly satisfying . . . Tells a vital story in a masterful way . . . One of those rare novels that manages to juggle literary ambition, political and social metaphor, and pure page-turning readability.” —The National

“A haunting allegory of man’s savagery against man and one of the most essential books to come out of the Iraq War, or any war.” —Elliot Ackerman, National Book Award finalist for Dark at the Crossing

Frankenstein in Baghdad is a quietly ferocious thing, a dark, imaginative dissection of the cyclical absurdity of violence. From the terrible aftermath of one of the most destructive, unnecessary wars in modern history, Ahmed Saadawi has crafted a novel that will be remembered.” —Omar El Akkad, author of American War

“This gripping, darkly humorous fable of post-invasion Baghdad is a profound exploration of the terrible logic of violence and vengeance.” —Phil Klay, bestselling author and National Book Award winner for Redeployment

“An extraordinary piece of work. With uncompromising focus, Ahmed Saadawi takes you right to the wounded heart of war’s absurd and tragic wreckage. It is a devastating but essential read, one that I am sure I will return to again and again.” —Kevin Powers, bestselling author and National Book Award finalist for The Yellow Birds

Frankenstein in Baghdad courageously confronts the bizarre events set in motion by the violence after the American occupation of Iraq. . . . It’s a painful and powerful story that goes beyond the limits of reality, in an attempt to reach the essence of the cruelty of war. . . . [Saadawi’s] lively style is reminiscent of horror movies and detective stories, with touches of black comedy.” —Hassan Blasim, author of The Corpse Exhibition

“Horrifically funny and allegorically resonant, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures very well the mood of macabre violence that gripped Baghdad in 2005.” —Brian Van Reet, author of Spoils

“Weaving as seamlessly from parable to realism as a needle weaves a tapestry, Frankenstein in Baghdad perfectly captures the absurdity, mayhem, and tragedy of war. Mahmoud the hapless journalist, Hadi the unwitting Dr. Frankenstein, and Elishva the mother are all profoundly human and appealing, our guides to a rare glimpse of the human beings on the receiving ends of our wars. Funny, bizarre, and captivating, this is a must-read for all Americans who are curious to see the war at last from an Iraqi point of view.” —Helen Benedict, author of Wolf Season and Sand Queen

“Ahmed Saadawi has divined a dark, rapturous metaphor within the landscape of post-9/11 Iraq and, channeling Gabriel García Márquez, has written a love song to the humanity that endures even amid the ruins of war.” —Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days

“A remarkable book from the heart of terror, where violence dissolves the divide between reality and unreality.” —Thomas McGuane, author of Crow Fair and Cloudbursts

“A haunting allegory for sectarian violence.” —Alexandra Alter, The New York Times
“Matter-of-factly, Saadawi sets out a reality—Baghdad in 2005—so gothic in its details . . . that, when the novel makes a turn to the supernatural, it barely shocks.” —The New Yorker
“Expertly told . . . A significant addition to contemporary Arabic fiction.” —Judges’ citation, International Prize for Arabic Fiction

“This haunting novel brazenly confronts the violence visited upon [Iraq] by those who did not call it home. A startling way to teach an old lesson: an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A harrowing and affecting look at the day-to-day life of war-torn Iraq.” —Publishers Weekly

“Highly recommended . . . An incisive look at local life in Baghdad in 2005. The multiple narratives . . . intersect to form a complex whole.” —Library Journal

“Captures the chaos, absurdity, and inhumanity of the recent Iraq War, leaving readers, like the characters, stunned.” —Lit Hub

“There is no shortage of wonderful, literate Frankenstein reimaginings . . . but few so viscerally mine Shelley’s story for its metaphoric riches. . . . In graceful, economical prose, Saadawi places us in a city of ghosts, where missing people return all the time, justice is fleeting, and even good intentions rot. . . . A haunting and startling mix of horror, mystery, and tragedy.” —Booklist, starred review

“As with any great literary work, this novel doesn’t just tell a story. Rather, it unfolds across multiple dimensions, each layer peeling back to reveal something new. . . . Exquisitely translated by Jonathan Wright, this novel breaks through the superficial news stories and helps us see more clearly what the American invasion has wrought, how violence begets violence, and how tenuous is the line between innocence and guilt. Brilliant and horrifying, Frankenstein in Baghdad is essential reading.” —World Literature Today

“A poignant and painful portrayal of a country whose ghosts have yet to be exorcised.” —Literary Review

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