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The Corpse Washer

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,768 ratings  ·  1,027 reviews
Young Jawad, born to a traditional Shi'ite family of corpse washers and shrouders in Baghdad, decides to abandon the family tradition, choosing instead to become a sculptor, to celebrate life rather than tend to death. He enters Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1980s, in defiance of his father’s wishes and determined to forge his own path. But the circumstances ...more
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Yale University Press (first published October 8th 2010)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  4,768 ratings  ·  1,027 reviews

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Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, arabic
Another book with high GR ratings that didn't work for me. Why? The writing.

It is well and good to chronicle contemporary sociopolitical upheavals in one's country from an insider's point of view, to put a human face on the anonymity of news reporting, to capture the broken world of the tortured self in the face of death and destruction. But I still insist such stories read like literature. The biggest problem with the book isn't that the story is unconvincing or unbelievable, but it lacks
Missy J
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Martyr's Monument in Baghdad (Iraq) dedicated to the soldiers that died during the Iraq-Iran War.

"History is a struggle of statues and monuments, Father. I will not have a share in all of this, because I have yet to sculpt anything important. Even Saddam's huge statue in Firdaws Square was brought down right after your death. I thought I would be happy since I detested him so much, but I felt I'd been robben of the happiness. That was not the end I had imagined. Those who brought him down were
Dec 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ahhh, this book.

This was probably one of, if not THE, most mortifying and horrible experience I've had reading a book.

The book was insulting. It had a lot of elements that were not following Islam's guidelines and the ironic thing is that the main character is Muslim and washes dead people.

Not to mention that, he indulges in lots of haraam activities like premarital relationships (which by the way were described in an extremely shocking explicit way). What I found even worse is that one second
Hoda Marmar
I love Jawad in both Arabic and English versions ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have bought this book from my beloved Baghdad ( after 20 years of leaving ) on a lovely Friday with my brother is Al Mutanaby street , I have been following Sinan Anton work in Jadalya web page in US and definitely loved it .
sentimental poetic pensive !
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, novels, iraq, 2015
One word.. PERFECTION.
Zheen Khalil Kamala
A book that beautifully portrays the suffering of Iraqs citizens whom did not take sides.
Anabel (inthebookcorner)
"The living die or depart, and the dead always come. I had thought that life and death were two separate worlds with clearly marked boundaries. But now I know they are conjoined, sculpting each other."

More like a 3.5.
I enjoyed reading this book. I wish it had better cover art because it's worthy. My first time reading Iraqi lit. This is a sad story about war & death and how it ruined and shaped the lives of not only the main character but the entire country. The book is written in short
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Third novel for literature class! I don't think the professor could have picked a better time to introduce Iraqi literature to us. This was so tragically beautiful, it's impossible for me not to give it a full rating. The Corpse Washer, from my perspective, is a personal historical novel. Set in Baghdad in 2003, the main character, Jawad, suffers from chronic insomnia. Death follows his every footstep, and as the book progresses, it's almost as if death has become a character of its own, latched ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Oh the endless potential of youth. Jawad wants to be an artist. His teacher recognizes his talent and encourages him to go forth. His father, and generations before, have been corpse washers. He wants Jawad to take over this honorable, and get closer to god, profession. Jawad wants to be an artist. Their minor conflict is eclipsed by a larger one. America invades and the soldiers want to ‘humiliate” the citizens. All the promise, love shared, and hope shrivel. The book turns stark and lonely. ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Somber, but beautifully written.
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible reading experience. The author is also the translator from the Arabic text, offering us a counter-narrative of the Iraqis. We are swept into the world of Iraq during its late 20th and 21st century wars. The suffering of its people is seen through the eyes of the corpse washer at the mghaysil. Innumerable bodies come to him; he enters each into his journal by name or cause of death.

"A Lover Pauses before Iraq's Ruins
Iraqis and palm trees. Who resembles whom? There are millions of
Ibo Ghazi
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
realism in this novel is well demonstrated. the themes are scenes are dreams struck with the sad reality. yet, it beings nicely the set of events to be viewed from different perspectives. neatly written, highly recommended.
Kezuka the dark otaku
Best book that I have read in 2015 :))))
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, middle-east
This was a bit heavy for me. I tend to read to check out of reality for a bit, but in this case I'd have gladly watched some CNN instead. Sadder still is that this is based on real people and real events.

As an American Iraqi, or Iraqi American, I'm drawn to books by Iraqis and/or about Iraq/Iraqi people. Considering the sociopolitical climate of recent decades, these don't tend to be cheerful stories. I'll keep reading them, but I need time in between.
Steve Middendorf
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I credit my friend Reem with introducing me to Sinan Antoon. I’ve listened to some interviews with him and read the essay Barbarian in Rome but this is the first book. It has two tracks which delve into the culture of Iraq and the disaster for the country of the American invasion. My heart bleeds for the trail of death and destruction my country has wrought on this country and this region. The cradle of civilisation. If Americans only saw it on a personal instead of a video game level.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A Gorgeous Read

Kafka-esque. A wonderful book, self-translated over four years from Arabic by the author. This short novel through its fierce and powerful prose brings us the experiences of Jawad, the younger son of a Shiite corpse washer, whose Baghdadi environment changes from one that began for him as moderate, fairly secular into a backward free-fall into sectarian violence, civil war and terrorism. The story offers a counterpoint to the American experience of the Iraq invasion, through
Regina Lindsey
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, war, death, iraq
Jawad is the son of a Shii'te corpse washer in Baghdad. His father desperately wants his two sons to follow his footsteps. However, Jawad dreams of being an artist. He follows this dream until his older brother is killed in the war with Iran and the war with America steals job opportunities for artists. After his father's death Jawad takes up his father's mantle.

This book has an awful lot going for it. It elaborately shows the life of everyday Iraqis both pre and post Suddam. It illustrates the
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Powerful novel of a family's struggles before and during the American war and occupation in Iraq. Jawad is the second and least-favored son of a father who is disappointed that Jawad doesn't want to be a corpse washer, the family business. Jawad tries for years to escape his father's expectations and make a life of happiness for himself. The war and other issues make this pretty much impossible, but Jawad continues to seek a life that doesn't harden his heart. The story is poetic and hopeful ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is something beautifully personal about the way this novel is written. The way it jumps between different times and events in Jawads life gives it a raw, almost messy feel which is reflected in that which drives the plot of the novel. I feel this is one I will always be able to find new meaning in every time I read it. I will definitely be giving this a reread soon!
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this in one sitting. It's absolutely beautiful, intricate, poetic and only 184 pages. Highly recommend.
Jawad defies his father, who washes the bodies of Iraq's dead, by pursuing art and sculpting. Only, he realises that there is death in one and beauty in the other.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The living die or depart, and the dead always come. I had thought that life and death were two separate worlds with clearly marked boundaries. But now I know they are conjoined, sculpting each other."
A novel that gives a unique perspective on how the lives of the citizens of Baghdad were irrevocably changed after the events of 9/11 and the war that ensued.
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and terribly sad. It's well worth reading.
Sarah Kendosh
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
MASTERPIECE..... it must be made a movie
Enaam Hamed
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was wondering does he work as a corpse washer before, or even practice it? The book is AMAZINGLY interesting, scary in many points and it touches the deep heart of Iraq's history and its suffering at least as embodied in one major character that has a lot with all Iraqi men.
Alyaa Bakeer
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not know what to say. Very sad and yet very beautiful. It is the kind of book that hunts and does not disappear in the subconscious.

"لقد تعبت معظم القلوب فهربت من أجساد أصحابها وتركت خلفها كهوفا تنام فيها الوحوش"
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and haunting. An absolutely tactile book and I urge anyone who wants to read about the Iraq invasion, from the other side, to read this book. Not only is this book culturally unique, but the fact that the English version is translated by the original author makes it unique in terms of linguistic translation studies.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful novel, and extremely rich for a graduate seminar discussion. It is a wonderful text about mourning and the situation in Iraq.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first book written by an Iraqi writer. I felt that the experience of the main character Jawad was well described and told matter-of-factly. I liked that the character has both a spiritual side and a carnal side, and the two can exist side by side. This book helped me understand what life in Iraq may have felt like in the '9os and during the U.S. occupation.
Aurore Labenheim
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
A must read when you want to hear the other side of the story. And everyone should.

"Sinan Antoon is fast becoming the only chronicler of modern Iraq and its unspeakable nightmare, but also one of the most acclaimed authors of the Arab world."
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Around the World ...: Discussion for The Corpse Washer 7 140 Jan 04, 2017 12:34PM  
نادي كلمة للقراءة : نقاش كتاب " وحدها شجرة الرمان " لسنان أنطون 2 47 May 26, 2016 04:44AM  
رواية جميلة 1 9 Dec 23, 2015 01:00AM  
ممكن رابطها 2 58 May 03, 2014 09:57AM  

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سنان أنطون
شاعر وروائي وأكاديمي ولد في بغداد عام . حصل على بكالوريوس في الأدب الإنكليزي من جامعة بغداد. هاجربعد حرب الخليج إلى الولايات المتحدة حيث أكمل دراساته وحصل على الماجستير من جامعة جورجتاون عام والدكتوراه في الأدب العربي من جامعة هارڤارد بامتياز عام .
نشر روايته الأولى"إعجام" عام وتُرجمت إلى الإنكليزية والنرويجية والبرتغالية والألمانية والإيطالية . نشر روايته الثانية "وحدها شجرة الرمان"
“كل ما أعرفه هو أنني تعبتُ من نفسي ومن كل شيء، وبأن قلبي ثقب يمكن المرور عبره لكن يستحيل البقاء فيه” 170 likes
“يقول ماركس إنّ التاريخ يعيد نفسه مرتين, مرة على شكل مأساة, ومرة على شكل مهزلة. وما نراه الآن هو المهزلة” 122 likes
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