Frankenstein in Baghdad
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Frankenstein in Baghdad

3.45 (4,695 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Brave and ingenious." --The New York Times "Gripping, darkly humorous . . . profound." --Phil Klay, bestselling author and National Book Award winner for Redeployment "Extraordinary . . . A devastating but essential read." --Kevin Powers, bestselling author and National Book Award finalist for The Yellow Birds From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi--a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a 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 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. A prizewinning novel by "Baghdad's new literary star" (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq. Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Winner of France's Grand Prize for Fantasy
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Product details

  • Paperback | 281 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 20mm | 181g
  • Penguin Books
  • English
  • Translation
  • 0143128795
  • 9780143128793
  • 198,554

About Ahmed Saadawi

Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. He is the first Iraqi to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction; he won in 2014 for Frankenstein in Baghdad, which also won France's Grand Prize for Fantasy. In 2010 he was selected for Beirut39, as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 39. He was born in 1973 in Baghdad, where he still lives.
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Review quote

"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 "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

"Ingenious . . . Hugely engaging and richly satisfying . . . Tells a vital story in a masterful way." --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 Garcia Marquez, 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
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Review Text

"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, justi
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Rating details

4,695 ratings
3.45 out of 5 stars
5 20% (934)
4 31% (1,449)
3 30% (1,402)
2 13% (616)
1 6% (294)
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