Bonnie's Reviews > Sweet Dates in Basra: A Novel

Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji
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's review
Jul 18, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, coming-of-age, fiction, iraq, middle-east, romance, jewish, addresses-race-issue
Read from July 06 to 18, 2011 , read count: 1

With Zionism in the 1940s being the au courant and hotly debated topic of Iraq, surrounding the years of the Second World War, an unlikely friendship develops between the beautiful girl, Kathmiya, from the marshes of the countryside sent to the city Basra to be a maid, and the Jewish boy, Shafiq.

Iraq, under great tumult (when hasn't it been?) is as much a character in this book as the boy and girl are, with its Shi'a, Sunni, Muslim, Jew and other melding religions and peoples. Names of Hitler, Mussolini and the Nazi, Erwin Rommel, nicknamed "Desert Fox" circle in households and all political debates.

A nice book to understand a little more of Iraq, its history, its culture. And a nice read. It is the second book of the author, a speechwriter for the secretary-general of the United Nations. She probably does a fine job as a speechwriter however, I felt she tried much too hard as a novelist. There were some beautiful phrases in the story, but many times words, particularly metaphors, just seemed so forced or really stretching: "even if his future was melting like the frozen water his mother bought each afternoon at the local ice factory." Exactly. Still I am glad I read it.

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