Frankenstein in Baghdad
By Ahmed Saadawi, and Jonathan Wright
From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the scavenger Hadi 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 give them a 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 realises he has created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive – first from the guilty, and then from anyone who crosses its path.Tweet
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I thought this book was wonderful. The reader is sent into US occupied Baghdad, shown the devastation that people have experienced with the loss of loved ones, trauma, political corruption and the on going danger that citizens' faced just going about their ordinary daily lives. It was interesting to get the perspective from an Iraqi citizen.
There were a large number of characters, with a smaller number focussed on. I was fascinated by the story of Elishva whose loss of her son Daniel and her refusal to accept his death took over her life affecting all her decisions and her relationships with the rest of her family. I also was interested in the journalist Mahmoud, his attempts to become successful journalist in a difficult environment and his naivety. Both Elishva and Mahmoud could be unlikeable at times, but they were rounded enough for the reader to empathise with the terrible situations they found themselves in. There was definitely a question in people lives about who to trust.
It was intriguing how the author wove the characters lives with the more fantastical story of the “whatsitsname” , a reconstructed person made by Hadi the junk dealer, from the body parts of those who were victims of the violence in Baghdad. At first the “whatsitsname” seeks revenge for those who it considers innocent victims however as it needs body parts to continue to survive, body parts are added of those who are seen as criminal. The “whatsitsname” eventually concluding that “There are no innocents who are completely innocent, and no criminals who are completely criminal … every criminal he had killed was also a victim.”