Monthly Archives: April 2018

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Guardian Review

New York Times Review

New Yorker Review51Ti3bpHTUL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

New Republic Review

New York Times Profile

Interview with Ahmed Saadawi

Interview about the novel


Somehow David Bloom, that engaging NBC reporter in the early years of this century, fired my interest in news coverage. The night US forces moved toward Bagdad, I was glued to David’s reports from the Bloom Mobile. I was aware of his cramped conditions and the heat of desert travel. Embedded with the Third Infantry Division, he brought war into our living rooms in startling reality. And like his countless fans, I was devastated to learn weeks later of his death, the blood clot from his legs that moved to his lungs.

Somehow that death was the correlative in my mind of the destruction of a rich artistic and cultural heritage of the ancient world as I watched war creep into Baghdad. I remember thinking of my trip to China not long after it was opened to tourists and my sense that political upheaval had ripped a great artistic heritage out of that country. To the extent that culture is maintained by artifacts, it seemed to have lost its past.

So when the Booker International shortlist was announced, I was caught by Saadawi’s title. I couldn’t help wondering how this middle eastern writer had reached back to Mary Shelley and on back to German myth to deal with that thin line between life and death. There was no decision about which of the shortlisted books I would read first.

Booker International 2018 Longlist

• Laurent Binet (France), Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language (Harvill Secker)

Javier Cercas (Spain), Frank Wynne, The Impostor (MacLehose Press)

Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (MacLehose Press)

• Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone (Portobello Books)

Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)

Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff, Die, My Love (Charco Press)

László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)

• Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)

Christoph Ransmayr (Austria), Simon Pare, The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books)

Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)

Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan, China), Darryl Sterk, The Stolen Bicycle (Text Publishing)

Gabriela Ybarra (Spain), Natasha Wimmer, The Dinner Guest (Harvill Secker)W


Shortlist — 12/04/18

Prize Awarded — 22/05/18