Frankenstein in Baghdad
From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi a scavenger and an oddball fixture at the local cafe 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 horrendous-looking criminals 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.
Winner of International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2014 and Le Grand Prix de L'Imaginaire 2017 (France).
'An extraordinary piece of work. With uncompromising focus, Ahmed Saadawi takes you right to the wounded heart of war's absurd and tragic wreckage. A devastating but essential read.' * Kevin Powers, bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds * 'A harrowing and affecting look at the day-to-day life of war-torn Iraq.' * Publishers Weekly * 'Outrageously adroit...this haunting novel brazenly confronts the violence visited upon this country 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 * '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 * 'This gripping, darkly humorous fable of post-invasion Baghdad is a profound exploration of the terrible logic of violence and vengeance.' * Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment * '[Saadawi is] Baghdad's new literary star.' * New York Times * 'Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, this complex novel weaves the experiences of a diverse group of Iraqis during the chaos of internecine warfare. This Iraqi perspective is one that may surprise and challenge casual readers; highly recommended.' * Library Journal * 'Expertly told...A significant addition to contemporary Arabic fiction.' * Judges' citation, International Prize for Arabic Fiction * 'A remarkable book from the heart of terror, where violence dissolves the divide between reality and unreality.' * Thomas McGuane, author of The Longest Silence * 'A painful and powerful story.' * Hassan Blasim, author of The Corpse Exhibition * `Uses Kafka-esque scenarios and magic realism to convey just how surreal and nightmarish day-to-day life for Iraqis has become.' * Michiko Kakutani, 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 * 'A haunting allegory for sectarian violence.' * Alexandra Alter, The New York Times * '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 * 'Ahmed Saadawi has divined a dark, rapturous metaphor within the landscape of post-9/11 Iraq and, channeling Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has written a love song to the humanity that endures even amid the ruins of war.' * Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days * '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 * '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 * '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 *
Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker. In 2010 he was selected for Beirut39, as one of the thirty-nine best Arab authors under the age of forty, and in 2014 he became the first Iraqi to win the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction. This prize was awarded to Frankenstein in Baghdad, which also won Le Grand Prix de L'Imaginaire in 2017. He lives in Baghdad. Jonathan Wright studied Arabic at Oxford University. He is the translator of Hassan Blasim's The Corpse Exhibition, which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2014. He lives in London.