Review by Choice Review
Comprising 34 selections from 16 Iraqi writers, 5 of them women, this anthology nicely complements Oranges in the Sun: Short Stories from the Arabian Gulf, ed. and tr. by Deborah Akers and Abubaker Bagader (CH, Apr'08, 45-4209). Translated from Arabic into comfortable, modern English by Mustafa (Boston Univ.), the stories and excerpts from novels are a brief cross-section of contemporary Iraqi writing. The most fanciful stories are those by women, and the most powerful narratives concern various recent wars in and around Iraq. Many writers are closely attached to their native cities--Basra, Baghdad, Kirkuk--and set their narratives in them. The Baathist regime drove many of this book's writers abroad, some permanently, and imposed strict censorship on those who remained behind. The latter had recourse to indirect methods of getting their message across, for example, using parables or light fantasy bordering on magical realism. Though Mustafa's introductions to the writers are somewhat fulsome and tend to assume less experienced readers--an audience also suggested by groupings of the stories under broad but common themes such as family, war, and childhood--this book will prove valuable in Middle East programs at all levels. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. W. L. Hanaway emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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