Frankenstein in Baghdad
Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright
From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi – a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café 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 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, first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.
Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humour the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.
About the Author
Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. He is the first Iraqi to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. In 2010 he was selected for Beirut39, as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 39. He was born in Baghdad, where he still lives.
Frankenstein in Baghdad reflects on the events in the Iraqi capital in 2005 from a number of viewpoints. A central character, Hadi, collects body parts to sew them onto torn up corpses to allow them a proper burial and the possibility of peace in the afterlife. A soul enters the Frankenstein-like monster, it comes to life to take revenge on the guilty. However, the line between innocent and guilty can’t be drawn clearly. This is a violent, absurdist fable which depicts the war as pointless, chaotic and surreal. Borrowing its central idea from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it also incorporates elements of the Arabian Nights. Funny in a wicked way but politically relevant nonetheless, the book is brilliant and necessary reminder of the ongoing conflict. Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Germany