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One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  52 reviews
After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla's stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settl ...more
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Published December 1st 2011 by Back Bay Books
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This book haunts me.
It really haunted my dreams. I don't suggest reading it before sleeping if you take your characters and their actions with you as you snooze. That being said I need to read it again as this is one of those books that will improve upon a second or perhaps third reading. War, no matter its root cause, does so much damage to individuals and that damage is the soul of this book. Good people can be driven to horrific acts by the repeated acts upon them. Unyielding cultural and re
To start with, this book was not at all what I expected. The author is an American solider, who spent time serving in the Middle East. I never thought he'd be able to write in the voice of an Iraqi man (and as a white American woman, I am not perhaps the best judge of how successful he is at this endeavor), but I actually think he did a good job. At the end of the book there is an interview with the author and he does a great job of explaining why he writes as an Iraqi and not an American. The m ...more
Moira & Mina Naveen

My Thoughts -

Abu Saheeh, so he is known, appears in the small border town of Safwan. Under the patronage of a local Sheikh, Abu Saheeh sets up shop as a merchant, and so begin the nightly visitations of a young girl, Layla. Poor and dirty, lively Layla reminds the troubled Saheeh of happier times, of unfullfilled dreams, of unmeted justice. Quickly, the ominous shadow of tragedy taints Abu Saheed's every endeavor.

Navigating the intricate relationships of Southern Iraq, old time tradition blen
After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla’s stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city’s rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments–his alliance with a powerful merchant a ...more
Autumn Blues Reviews
What lies between reality and fiction? Buchholz takes you there where Layla entertains.

One Hundred and One Nights is one of those books that just stays with the reader long after the book has been read. Abu Saheeh has been to America on a visa to study as a pre-med student but only for a short time and now he is living in the small town of Safwan. War looms in the background with the American convoys passing back and forth on the outskirts of the town near where Abu Saheeh sells his mobile phone
Sarah Cypher
Constructed around a mysterious narrator's appearance in Southern Iraqi town during the Iraq War, the novel uses an almost military pattern of repetition to peel back the layers on the narrator's role in the town's politics. We learn he is an aristocratic-born, Western-educated doctor in hiding, and only a few of the townspeople share his secret--but the faerie-like Leila, a young female visitor, threatens to upset his plan.

I wanted to love this book, and may return to it later this year. I set
Meag McKeron
Per my review at

Benjamin Buchholz’s One Hundred and One Nights (published this December) is the story of Abu Saheeh, an Iraqi mobile phone merchant (or so it seems) living in Safwan whose life is changed by the presence of a teenage girl named Layla. She first appears as a poor street rat – a nuisance to merchants – but Abu Saheeh ends up forming a relationship with her that effects him mentally and emotionally in more ways than one.

One Hundred and One Ni
Ben Buchholz is one of the most interesting new writers I've read in the past few years. He has a quality that I am hard put to has to do with a poetic flair, and a just-out-of-my-grasp dreamy reality that reminds me of the various merits of writers like Joyce, Brautigan and Pynchon. It is writing multi-layered with meaning, metaphor,and imagery. For me, it is always a challenge. I chew on it, wresting all the goodness from it, always wary that I don't miss an important detail. All o ...more
A Hundred and One Nights is a fearless and seductive piece of ventriloquism by a storyteller in full command of his craft. With spare, lyrical prose, Benjamin Buchholz draws us into the mind of an Iraqi doctor haunted by the violence he has witnessed. In search of healing, Abu Saheeh moves from Baghdad to a small town in southern Iraq. But even as he begins to forge a new life and a friendship with an enchanting young girl named Layla, the horrors of his past rear up, threatening to destroy all ...more
Ginger Bollinger
One Hundred and One Nights is the second debut novel I've read this month with voracity and delight. What a GREAT read! Written from the viewpoint of an Iraqui doctor, schooled in Chicago, the story unfolds in ways both mysterious and heart-wrenching. I was completely taken in from the very first chapter. I'm perhaps gullible, but I didn't atually understand what was really happening until about half way through the book. At that AHA moment, I was in awe of Buchholz and his ability to both touch ...more
Marianne Jackson
I loved the idea of this book, but felt a bit let down. It sort of dragged the first 3/4 of the book, and then attempted to wrap it all up too quickly. The characters and plot were brilliant. I suppose it was just a matter of editing. For his first novel, he did good - his idea was great!
Jennifer Ware
I received this book from for free. This book was very well done. The childs' fascination with American movies and actors pulls you in. It was a fantastic look into the lives, behaviors and beliefs of the Muslim people. Very well done and already passed on to friends to read!
Shelly Smilnak
i finished this book over Christmas break. Even though the story is quite sad,I enjoyed the charectors that Buchholz developed. You felt as if you really did know these people. My heart went out to "Father Truth".
I have not started reading this, but I am considering it for a book club book. It will be a bit strange to read it because the writer is a former high school classmate. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to read it.
Captivating characters--I loved Abu Saheeh's steadiness placed against Layla's bubbling personality! I didn't foresee where the book was headed at all. A pleasant rarity for me.
Absolutely brilliant. Perhaps the most important novel about Iraq released since the conflict. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and beautifully rendered - give it a read.
Nov 29, 2011 Carrie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Looks like a good read, excited to receive this in the mail so I can read and review it! Thanks for the win!
Nov 29, 2011 Diane marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Won this via firstreads giveaway. Looking forward to reading it when it arrives.
Jan 01, 2012 Connie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Too good to set down, will be done soon.
Benjamin Bucholtz perfectly captures the monotony of Abu Saheeh’s days watching convoys travel past his mobile phone business carrying supplies, troops and prisoners between Kuwait and war-torn Iraq. Just as the reader is lulled into complacency by the military routine, the unrelenting sand and the oppressive heat of the locale, we discover that Abu Sayeeh (whose name translates as Father Truth) is not what he seems, and begin to wonder how this Iraqi doctor educated in the United States finds h ...more
I came across this novel on the Popular page on Goodreads and fell in love with it then and there. Thus in the same fashion Abu-Saheeh passionately seeks Layla so did I with this book. It was impossible to find here in Amman, don't know why, but as soon as I boarded a plane to America the first thing I did was order it from Amazon. Yet now that I've read it, all the excitement I had towards this book has been drowned out.

For starters, I have to praise Buchholz for doing his homework. For a man w
Review from my blog (

I want to first start off by saying a few things about this book. First of all, it is not what I expected- at all. Second, there are so many little parts that give away secrets to the main plot that I don't want to go into a ton of detail. The story itself seemed like it was going to be one of those long, drawn out, never-gets-to-the-point kind of stories. I was happily mistaken by this idea!

One Hundred and One Nights starts off slow,
This book confirms what we think of war. Ask the people whose countries and families are affected by it. The politics of war which is decided by a few in power and we read about the morality and fight for peace has far reaching effects on a common man who wants a peaceful daily life for himself. The common man is the collateral damage of war and it is in their sacrifice and pain that change happens.

This book was written hauntingly and brings out the effect of war on families. Abu Saheeh and his
Paul Culloty
As literary terrain, Iraq has been well-ploughed in recent years - Jarhead, Life in the Emerald City, but the debut author, Benjamin Buchholz, cleverly chooses to show the Iraqi perspective to shine a fresh light. Our protagonist, Abu Saheeh moves back and forth in his memories, contrasting the past of his childhood upbringing and eventual move to Chicago, with his present attempt to forge a career in a war-torn country. On meeting a beggar girl, Layla, who is fascinated with US culture, Abu is ...more
Author Benjamin Buchholz weaves touching story with twists and turns. You can feel the anguish coming through Abu Saheeh, the books main character. His return to his homeland Iraq is cause for time to review his life past and future. Abu's story tells heart-wrenching stories of the different people in his new place of residence in Iraq bordering on Kuwait.

Abu feels like a foreigner among his own people. It doesn't help that he is new to the a city that is stuck in limbo. With the Americans still
Alex Decker
To start I will admit that I stopped and started this book twice. That wasn't because I wasn't enjoying it, I just had other commitments that needed my attention. Buchholz book starts out with the seemingly innocent story of a man looking to start over in war torn Iraq. He is seemingly a simple man, with simple routines who sells mobile phones and is trying to be a positive cog in the community. The story does a wonderful job of lulling you into this belief, while opening the door to his past th ...more
Terri Pickett
I liked some things about this book, especially the context (geographical and cultural) and the protagonist, whom I found interesting and compelling. He's an Iraqi doctor turned cell phone salesman who has recently returned to an Iraqi village from several years of education, training and life in the US. He's a man with secrets. I liked the thoughtful, perceptive and open-minded author explanation for writing this novel from the perspective of an Iraqi man (in an Q/A at the end). I did not care ...more
Lee Koopman
This book might not be interesting to just anyone. It's a compelling story of a man who came from the Middle East to get an education and who lived in Chicago for years, who then returned home to Iraq. I was very surprised that an American man could write the story of an Iraqi man with such attention to emotional detail. Excellent picture of the Arab thought processes and the emotional turmoil as well as the political turmoil that we, as a free people have no way to comprehend. I have worked for ...more
At the beginning, I was very excited about this book. Buchholz's experiences make his narrative so well-informed and life-like. I like that he wove parts of Abu Shaheeh's past into the narrative in a way that seemed fresh rather than formulaic, and the allusions to a deeper past are well-placed. In the last third of the book, the narrator's dreams get in the way of advancing the narrative and confused me about the progression of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel for the perspective it pro
Aug 22, 2012 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melissa by: Elena Krivitz
I really enjoyed this book, though through most of it I felt confused. Definitely a book I will have to read a second time in hopes of catching something I might have missed in the story and to understand what exactly happens. The characters are all unique and appealing in their own ways. Very interesting insights into the culture and what can happen to a human being when suffering trauma emotionally and mentally, this book was a surprising read for me to enjoy as it was far off my normal genre, ...more
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