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Farewell, Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad

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3.5  ·  Rating details ·  32 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In Farewell, Babylon, Naim Kattan takes readers into the heart of exotic mid-19th-century Baghdad's then-teeming Jewish community. Jews had lived in Iraq for 25 centuries, long before the time of Christ or Muhammad, but anti-Semitism and nationalism were on the rise. In this beautifully written memoir, a young boy comes of age and describes his discoveries — of work, liter ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published February 6th 2006 by Raincoast Books (first published January 1st 1976)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan Rice

The author of this book, whose 88th birthday is today, August 26, 2016, was born in Baghdad in 1928. In the '40s there were 350,000 Jews living in Baghdad, he says, but when America intervened in Iraq in 2003, there were around 20 Jews left there.

Arabic is his native language. He says that adding new cultures works easily; it's losing one's native language that's hard. He wrote his first short story in Arabic at 14 years old but it took him until age 38 to publish his first literary work in Fre
...more
Mary Soderstrom
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ten years ago the world was in turmoil after the ill-advised invasion of Iraq by American-led forces. Over the last two weeks there has been considerable comment on what happened--and didn't happen. Sadly, it seems that the lot of Iraqis is perhaps even worse than it was before.

This kind of reflectioin always sends me looking to see what I've read in the past that might resonate with the future. One of the most interesting is Naim Kattan' memoir Farewell, Babylon, first published in French in 1
...more
David
Nov 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Our images of Iraq today are quite tainted by recent events. This book tells of a very different era, a time of more openness and cooperation in the early 1940's - in the evolving years after attaining self-rule from British occupation. The Jewish community in Baghdad (in the era before the birth of the Israeli state) was accepted and respected.

The author was a young Jewish intellectual who enjoyed meeting with Muslim and Christian friends and discussing European literature, and their dreams for
...more
Susan
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
I finished it just three days ago and I already forgot what it was about.
Nina
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Reading this memoir about Jewish youth growing up in Iraq during WWII was a culturally interesting walk. The text was a bit flowery, but then the author is also a poet. I do wish he had gone into much more depth. It seemed a bit shallow considering what was going on at the time. He mainly concentrated on his and friends' intense interest in poetry, languages, literature, and all things French. While I was upset by how the Jews were treated by the Muslims, I was fuming at how both Jews and Muslim ...more
Michael Lewyn
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
A coming of age memoir about Jewish life in 1940s Iraq. The book begins with a pogrom in 1941 and ends in 1947 when the author left the country. Although Baghdad was somewhat westernized, I was surprised by how traditional the society was: women were still secluded from male society (especially among Muslims), and marriages were still arranged with just a few minutes of contact between bride and groom.
Mark Nenadov
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
I found this title fairly interesting. It gives a good biographical look at a Jew living in Iraq. No "fireworks" or extremely dramatic stuff, just a good look at the human elements of the situation and some of the hardships encountered.
Hilary Hicklin
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies-read
A coming-of-age memoir of a Jewish boy in Baghdad in the 1940s; I learnt a few new things but this is a poor translation which really marred any pleasure in the book. Had I known it was originally published in French I would have read it in that language.
Adrian Brown
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting account of life in pre-1948 Jewish Baghdad, although not as flowing due to obvious translation of the work (it was originally published in French). Still good for those interested in Middle Eastern history.
David R. Godine
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaica
"A fine portrait of a particular place and time that is no more."
- Library Journal

"In all respects, a most moving and haunting work."
- Montreal Star
Sandra D
Feb 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sandra D by: Lynne
Shelves: memoir, middle-east
Life in mid-20th century Baghdad from an unexpected point of view. Interesting, but not captivating.
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Lina Laith
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Arwa Alyasiri
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am reading the history of iraq from other viewpoint
Eran Mukamel
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Sep 17, 2007
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