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Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel

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From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi--a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café--collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he's created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive--first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by "Baghdad's new literary star" (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.

281 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2013

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About the author

Ahmed Saadawi

6 books329 followers
Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter and documentary film maker. He won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for Frankenstein in Baghdad. He lives and works in Baghdad.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,473 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
January 18, 2018
This is a novel that depicts the horror, chaos, and mass death that has visited the residents of Baghdad in Iraq since the US occupation, delivered with the blackest of humour via the reinterpretation of the Gothic Frankenstein. The only constant is the rising tide of the dead and missing, with many friends and family unable to access a body, sometimes the odd pieces of body parts but there is no guarantee. There were times that this story felt like a piece of Cubist art, with a disjointed picture representing different aspects of life and death in this most ill-fated of cities. We follow a wide ranging cast of characters, the elderly Elishva lives in her coveted home with her cat, she lost her son, Daniel in the Iran-Iraq War, her 2 daughters live in Melbourne, and a crooked realtor is determined to acquire her home. Elishva has never gotten over the loss of Daniel and yearns for his return. Hadi, a junk dealer loses his beloved business partner, with no body he collects various body parts that represent every part of the Iraqi community and stitches together a composite corpse. This corpse becomes inhabited by a soul of a dead guard in search of a body. So Frankenstein, or Whatsitsname as he is referred to, is born.

Elishva claims him as Daniel, her son, returning as promised by St George. The neighbourhood think with so many missing and dead, some are bound to return like Daniel. Whatsitsname seeks vengeance for all those who make up his body. Sought by the Americans, the Iraqi military, and Brigadier Majid of the Tracking Unit, discover this is a criminal who is bullet proof and cannot be killed. A number of parties lay claim to and support Whatsitsname, seeing him as representing all Iraqis who have suffered under the US and various corrupt and murderous Iraqi sectors, or as God or whatever fits their particular perspective. Mahmoud, a journalist, tries to get the bottom of the rumours surrounding Frankenstein, interviewing Hadi, eventually getting hold of recordings of Whatsitsname explaining his purpose. Whatsitsname keeps losing body parts as he achieves vengeance for that person, at first, those parts are replaced by innocent victims although soon any parts will do, even those of the guilty. There is a philosophical discussion as to whether such a demarcation of innocent and guilty can truly exist as Civil War erupts.

Saadawi has written an intelligent satire on the sorrow and grief that is Iraq, and Baghdad in particular. I appreciate his approach, because quite honestly it would otherwise be unbearable and grim to read about. It is inevitable that amidst the never ending explosives, car bombs, al-Qaeda, US actions, religious factions that mental health issues would proliferate amidst the never ending loss and grief experienced by local Iraqis. I love the inclusion of the magicians, djinns, astrologers who play a vital role in political and military decision-making. The horror continues in the Iraq of today with continuing use of car bombs, the presence of religious factions and more. This is an extraordinary glimpse of some of what ordinary Iraqi citizens have experienced in recent times, that is if they are still alive. I hope many will choose to read this brilliant and compelling novel, it deserves much wider recognition. Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,785 followers
March 9, 2014
يؤسس أحمد السعداوي روايته هذه على مستويين متمايزين من السرد: سرد واقعي مستلهم من الحياة اليومية لعراقٍ يعاني القتل والقهر والفقر، وسردٌ فانتازي مستوحى من رواية "فرانكنشتاين" للروائية الإنجليزية ماري شيلي.

فكما ينجح البطل فيكتور في الرواية الإنجليزية في خلق وحش بشري، سيخرج -لاحقًا- عن سيطرته ليزرع القتل والتدمير في كل ما/من حوله، إلى أن ينتهي به الأمر إلى قتل فيكتور نفسه!

يقوم هادي العتاك، بطريقة مشابهة، في رواية "فرانكشتاين في بغداد" بجمع أشلاء ضحايا التفجيرات الإرهابية، ليصنع منها كائنًا بشعًا، تدب فيه روح تائهة ذات ليلة فينتفض حيًا، ويبدأ رحلة الانتقام لأولئك الأبرياء الذين يتكون جسده من بقاياهم.

لا يلبث الأمر طويلاً، حتى يتحول هذا الكائن أو "الشسمه" ( أي الذي لا اسم له) كما أطلق عليه صانعه إلى بطل يلتف حوله عدد كبير من الأتباع.

لكن يكتشف الأتباع أن جسد "الشسمه" القوي ليس قويًا كما يبدو، حيث يصاب بالتفكك والتحلل بصورة مستمرة بعد كل عملية ثأر ناجحة يقوم بها. فيلجأون إلى ترميمه بكل ما تجود به العمليات الإرهابية من أشلاء، ومن دون التمييز بين أبرياء ومجرمين، أو ضحايا وقتلة.

وهنا تطغى النزعة الإجرامية على تصرفات "الشسمه" ويبدأ بإرتكاب الجرائم وإزهاق الأرواح بصورة عشوائية.

لن يخفى على قرّاء هذه الرواية أنها رواية رمزية قبل أن تكون رواية فانتازية، حيث تتمحور بمعناها وأحداثها حول صناعة "البطل" أو "المخلّص"، وهي صناعة لا تجيدها سوى الشعوب اليائسة/البائسة .. ومنها الشعوب العربية.

لأننا شعوب غارقة، نبحث عن أي شيء نتشبث به،: أرجل الضفادع، عيدان القش أو بطل أسطوري ينقذنا من أنفسنا قبل أي شيء !وكل تلك الشخصيات التي تعلقنا بها في تاريخنا الحديث ليست إلا أوهام ونسخ مشابهة لل"شسمه" هدمت أكثر مما بنت.

صدام حسين، أسامة بن لادن، حسن نصر الله وكل الطغاة الذين أتوا وسيأتون ليسوا سوى صنيعتنا.

نحن من جعلنا من هؤلاء أبطالاً، وأضفينا عليهم صفات لم يتصف بها حتى الأنبياء أنفسهم لمجرد أنهم أشبعوا بعض أوهامنا ! ثم نتفاجأ بأن هؤلاء الأبطال لم يكونوا سوى أوهام أخرى تضاف إلى سلسلة أوهامنا التي لا تنتهي، ورغم تكرر المشهد إلا أننا أغبى من أن نستوعب !
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,111 reviews8,036 followers
March 18, 2018
This is an inventive and fresh take on a classic story. It's also the first novel I've ever read (I think) that is translated from Arabic. Don't expect this to be as horrifying or thrilling as the blurb leads you to believe; it's much more introspective and comments on war, humanity, and learning to let go. The translation was top-notch and it read very naturally in English. Overall a unique reading experience that I might never have had if this novel hadn't been nominated for this year's Man Booker International prize (the reason I love literary prizes!).
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68k followers
May 12, 2020
Faith or Madness?

I find it possible to read Frankenstein in Baghdad with or without irony. It flows just as well either way - as an edifying symbolic story of courage and the will to survive in modern Iraqi reality; or as the precise opposite, a condemnation of the symbols which constitute that reality.

Saadawi uses an established literary reference to create this ambiguity - the monster formed by chaos. Saadawi’s monster is assembled and refreshed from the body parts of bomb victims. It is enlivened by prayers directed to St George - as it happens the patron of England, a ‘coalition partner’ in the Iraqi occupation. Similar ironies pop up and annihilate each other like particles of matter and anti-matter throughout the text.

Saadawi’s story takes place amid the profound spiritual as well as social dislocation of war. The monster of Frankenstein, the man constructed by man out of decaying remnants from the past, is the perfect trope for representing the reconstruction of civilization. Just as compelling, Shelley’s story of the monster has its roots in the Eastern European Jewish legend of the Golem, a creature formed through mystical prayer whose function is the protection of the community during just such a period of extreme stress.

The principle plot device used by Saadawi, therefore, is that of miracle-working. A classical example of the genre is the Book of Signs in the Gospel of John. The allusion seems apt since the Frankenstein character Saadawi portrays is a combination of a devout Christian woman and a superstitious junk dealer living next door in ‘the Jewish house’.

Like Saadawi’s story, John’s gospel uses the factual and the mystical interchangeably in order to connect a new appreciation of the world with a past that seems to have lost its relevance. Another fleeting irony: John’s gospel is the most anti-Semitic of the four Christian narratives of Jesus; it was written after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the Jewish house is a ruin.

The Book of Signs demonstrates how the technique of writing about miracles works. It contains reports on each of seven miracles performed by Jesus. All of these miracles can be interpreted either as factual or allegorical, or, in fact, as both simultaneously. For example, the first, and probably best known, miracle of the changing of water into wine at the wedding of Cana can be taken literally as testimony about the transformation of a physical substance. On the other hand some exegetes believe it is not the account of an event but primarily represents a symbolic claim by Jesus to be himself the new wine which will nourish the world. The symbolism further suggests Jesus as the new Moses, who changed the water of the Nile to blood. Which interpretation is the more accurate? Or more important? Or more faithful? Or, for that matter, more superstitious?

Miracles are the presumed suspension of the physical laws of the universe by divine action. But, as in the Golem and Shelley’s and Saadawi’s monsters, they are theologically problematic - not just because of their literary functions but also because their mere possibility is a scandal for religious faith. On the one hand, miracles are seen as evidence of God’s power; on the other hand, they are equally clear evidence of God’s profound arbitrariness. If miracles do occur, they are the result of actions by a patently capricious deity who has the power to relieve the suffering of creation but generally chooses to permit, and even cause, such suffering. Miracles therefore tend to get out of hand conceptually.

Miracles also demonstrate the rather tenuous link between faithful devotion and divine assistance. Some of John’s miracles, for example, depend on very specific faith in Jesus’s abilities; others on faith in a more transcendental and abstract divine power; and others have no connection with faith whatsoever but are apparently random demonstrations of divine whimsy. Therefore, even believers may not want to press miracles too seriously as factual events, as more than allegorical. St. Paul himself counsels against looking for signs as proof of divine action. Saadawi’s female protagonist has her prayer miraculously answered after decades of fervent prayer but in an obviously distorted and unexpected way.

So Frankenstein in Baghdad can be read as a tale of the power of religious faith in a time of profound disruption; and simultaneously as a story of the self deception in which everyone involved in war participates. It is a literary optical illusion which captures the essential ambiguity created by human violence in its obscene destructiveness and its bizarre creativity. Religion is part of the problem as well as the solution to conflict. It is necessary to survive but at a cost. Religious belief persists but it is itself transformed as its benign and malicious effects are actualized.

It appears, then, that Sophocles was correct: ‘evil appears as good in the minds of those whom the gods lead to destruction’. The same might be said of miracles, which can be, equally, symptoms of human madness or transcendental faith.

Postscript: For more on the problematic theology of miracles, see: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,122 reviews1,622 followers
March 14, 2022

Non abbiate paura di quelli che uccidono il corpo ma non hanno potere di uccidere l’anima
Matteo 10, 24-33

In un posto come la Baghdad del terzo millennio, sotto l’invasione americana, in uno stato di guerra permanente, con regole e leggi impregnate di Comma 22, le autobombe come insetti molesti, in un posto così possono ucciderti il corpo, farlo saltare in aria, a pezzi, e poi assemblarlo con altri corpi, fino a formare un corpo nuovo, un Golem, una specie di Cosa da questo mondo, un posto dove le anime raminghe e ramenghe possono temporaneamente incarnarsi.
E neppure così temporaneamente.

Il Golem nel film del 1920.

Mi colpisce che ogni riassunto della trama, dalla quarta di copertina ai recensori, si dilunghi su un aspetto che il libro invece ignora: perché il romanzo inizia con la creatura che si è già ribellata, è già per fatti suoi, e quindi non si comprende bene l’intento originale del creatore, si perde cosa lo spinga a trasformarsi in novello maldestro doctor Victor Frankenstein.

Boris Karloff, il Frankestein per eccellenza.

La Creatura del Frankenstein iracheno è composta come quella del romanzo di Mary Shelley da brandelli di cadaveri diversi: ma in questo caso si tratta di vittime morte senza giustizia.
La Creatura ha come compito, come imperativo morale, come regola di vita, di vendicare tutti i singoli donatori dei pezzi che costituiscono il suo corpo. Per farlo deve uccidere chi ha ucciso i suoi donatori.
Solo una volta vendicato, ristabilita giustizia, la vittima può davvero morire in pace.
E, come conseguenza, il brandello del corpo di Frankenstein che gli corrisponde imputridisce e cade.

Che fare?
Giustiziare a una velocità tale da ammazzare tutti prima che il suo corpo imputridisca?
Oppure sostituire i pezzi putridi e cadenti con nuovi brandelli di altri cadaveri, che andranno vendicati a loro volta, in una spirale senza fine di morte in lotta contro il tempo?

Anche Robert De Niro è stato Frankenstein nel “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” del 1994 diretto da Kenneth Branagh.

La lista delle persone da punire si allunga via via che al corpo della Creatura vengono aggiunte parti di nuove vittime: gli organi vecchi cadono a pezzi perché il proprietario originario è finalmente stato vendicato, ma si aggiungono nuove membra, il cui ‘donatore’ deve essere vendicato, e la spirale non ha fine.
Niente, in lui, era duraturo, a eccezione del desiderio di continuare a vivere. Uccideva per poter rimanere in vita. Quella era la sua unica giustificazione. Non voleva decomporsi ed estinguersi, nessuno vuol morire senza capire perché si muore, e dove si va dopo morti, e lui non conosceva le risposte a quelle domande. Per questo si aggrappava alla vita, forse più degli altri, di quelli che gli concedevano le loro, di vite, e pezzi dei loro corpi, così, per paura.

Il mio Frankenstein preferito, Peter Boyle nel capolavoro di Mel Brooks.

In una guerra, e soprattutto in una guerra come questa, nessuno è solo vittima o solo criminale, ognuno è un po’ dell’uno e un po’ dell’altro, tutti sono ambigui.
Perfino il santo del quadro, il san Giorgio in lotta col drago, ha una natura ambigua.
Saadawi sembra farsi beffe dell’assolutismo morale che divide le persone in bianche e nere, non lascia mai affiorare uno sguardo morale, nel suo romanzo domina un relativismo, ma non solo morale.
Io essendo formato da brandelli umani appartenenti alle più disparate razze, tribù, categorie ed estrazioni sociali, rappresento quel melting pot impossibile che non si è mai realizzato in precedenza. Io sono il cittadino iracheno primigenio

Aaron Eckhart in “I, Frankestein” del 2014.

Per le strade di Baghdad si aggirano sunniti e sciti, ovvio – ma anche, wahabiti, fondamentalisti di vario tipo, assiri, musulmani, cristiani, anglicani, siro-ortodossi, ebrei, sabei, egiziani, armeni, ottomani, tunisini, algerini, e anche frankenstein, revenant, jinx…
Saadawi abbraccia il futurismo, il surrealismo, la fantascienza, usa il gotico, l’horror, il fantasy, il realismo magico…
Ma quale realismo magico? Considerato che si parla di una realtà estrema, distorta in origine dalla guerra, da questo tipo di guerra, dove l’invasore si proclama salvatore, sarebbe forse più corretto parlare di magia realistica?

Qua e là sembra che Saadawi si smarrisca, si ripeta – forse qualche pagina è di troppo, forse un po’ di redazione avrebbe giovato

Profile Image for Noor Alwachi.
15 reviews47 followers
January 3, 2018
كل الذين يموتون يومياً ،، يأخذون حذرهم في الغالب ..!!!
Profile Image for Mohammed-Makram.
1,390 reviews2,929 followers
August 17, 2022

تم وضع بعض قطع الجيتار في التابوت الفخم المصنوع من الساج الأحمر الذي اشتراه تيداروس. وأُنزل الى القبر. جيتار محطم في تابوت فارغ. وبيت فقد شبح الابن الوحيد. وعدو يمرح في الزقاق والحي يمارس سطوته على الجميع دون أن يقف بوجهه أحد.
وحش قاتل على غرار فرانكشتاين
مصنوع من بقايا أجساد لضحايا. مضافًا إليها روح ضحية. واسم ضحية أخرى. انه خلاصة ضحايا يطلبون الثأر لموتهم حتى يرتاحوا. وهو مخلوق للانتقام والثأر لهم.
احتار الناس في وصفه مثلما احتار هو ولكن كبار مجانينه ومؤيديه كان لهم رأي أخر.
المجنون الصغير يؤمن بأنني مثال للمواطن الانموذجي الذي فشلت الدولة العراقية في انتاجه منذ أيام الملك فيصل الأول وحتى الاحتلال الأميركي.
أنا. ولأني مكوّن من جذاذات بشرية تعود الى مكونات واعراق وقبائل واجناس وخلفيات اجتماعية متباينة. أمثل هذه الخلطة المستحيلة التي ��م تتحقق سابقًا. أنا المواطن العراقي الأول. هكذا يرى.
القصة متشابكة وتنضح بالمأساة العراقية التي استعصت على الأفهام واخترق صداها قارات العالم الست دون أن يعي أحد أن المأساة قديمة ومتجذرة في الوعي العراقي من قبل الاحتلال و الديكتاتورية بل ومن قبل الاستقلال الأول. إنها مشكلة إنسانية بامتياز. مشكلة يسبق وجودها وجود الإنسان العراقي نفسه وبالطبع يسبق وجود تلك الرقعة من الأرض التي سميت فيما بعد باسم العراق. تلك الأرض التي احتضنت حضارات متعاقبة علمت البشرية معنى الإنسانية وأثرت في الإنسان المعاصر كما لم تؤثر حضارة أخرى من قبل. إنها مشكلة الشر نفسه. الشر الذي يمتلك كل منا بعضا منه بين جنوبنا ولكن كلنا ينكر ذلك أمام الجميع وربما أمام نفسه أيضا.
قال لها إن فكرة الفلم وقصته ستكون حول الشر الذي نشترك جميعًا في امتلاكه في الوقت الذي ندعي اننا نحاربه. وكيف انه قائم هنا بين جوانحنا ونحن نريد الاجهاز عليه في الشارع. وأننا جميعًا مجرمون بنسبة أو بأخرى وان الظلام الداخلي هو الأكثر عتمة بين كل انواع الظلام المعروفة. اننا نكوّن جميعًا هذا الكائن الشرير الذي يجهز على حياتنا الآن.
Profile Image for Meike.
1,472 reviews2,303 followers
May 23, 2018
I have never read anything like this, and I severely doubt that I will read a better book this year. Like one of the many (and I mean: many) detonations we are witnessing in this text, the story, the timeline and the point of view simply explode right in our faces, again and again, and just like the characters, we are forced to piece everything together - will we succeed in doing this? And what kind of monster are we creating by devoting ourselves to this Sisyphean task?

In case you're wondering whether this book really offers cutting-edge political commentary, just take in the exposition of the story: When Hadi, a middle-aged junk dealer, loses his best friend Nahem in an explosion caused by a suicide bomber, he wants to make sure Nahem gets a proper burial - but for this, he needs a complete corpse, so Hadi decides to substitute the missing parts with the body parts of other victims of violence that he finds in the streets of Baghdad. You guessed it: The completed corpse, called Whatsitsname by Hadi, is entered by a displaced soul and comes to life. And not only that, the Whatsitsname wants revenge for the deaths of the people whose body parts he is composed of, and goes on a killing spree through Baghdad.

But wait a minute, maybe this didn't even happen. Maybe Hadi is just an alcoholic liar and made it all up. Or maybe the Whatsitsname is an urban legend and a personification of people's fears. Or of people's longing for justice. Maybe the Whatsitsname works for the Iraqi government. Or the Americans. Or the terrorists. Or one of the militias. Maybe the whole story was distorted by the media. Who the hell knows?

Which brings us to the heart of this book: In war-torn Baghdad, a whole society is exploding. Absolutely nothing is certain anymore, it becomes impossible to trust anyone or to verify information. It becomes dubious who stands on what side, who is spying on whom, and when and how the innocent become criminals. Human solidarity collapses over a variety of conflicts, and people get trapped in a circle of violence and revenge.

How do you piece a human life or a whole society back together? Saadawi starts by telling this story. The topic of fragmentation is also represented in the narrative style, which jumps in time and between perspectives, and while the narrator is omniscient, he certainly does not share all of his knowledge with the reader. The connection between personal experiences and the destiny of society as a whole as well as the connection between the people inside and outside of the novel gets apparent when the author of "Frankenstein in Baghdad", Ahmed Saadawi, becomes a character in the book, where he meets a journalist named Mahmoud al-Sawadi (the names Mahmoud and Ahmed both go back to Muhammad and mean "praise"). Mahmoud is carrying a big secret about his family's origin - one of the many breathtaking ideas this book throws at its readers.

This novel gives you what the best news report can't offer. It's the magic of literature, and this is a true masterpiece. Sample quote:

"Because I'm made up of body parts of people from diverse backgrounds - ethnicities, tribes, races and social classes - I represent the impossible mix that never was achieved in the past. I'm the first true Iraqi citizen, he (the Whatsitsname) thinks."
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,747 followers
May 11, 2014
فرانكشتاين في بغداد

حصلت هذه الرواية على بوكر 2014، ولكننا تعلمنا جيداً أن البوكر العربي ليس علامة جودة، نعم.. قد تذهب البوكر لعمل عملاق من وزن (عزازيل)، وقد تذهب إلى أعمال متوسطة المستوى أو حتى ضعيفة جداً.

حصلت على الكتاب مبكراً، قبل حمى البوكر، أعجبتني الفكرة جداً، فرانكشتاين بغداد الذي صنع من بقايا قتلى التفجيرات الانتحارية والذي ينهض لينتقم، ولكن للأسف جاءت الرواية مترهلة، مملة، ومن دون التركيز على الشخصية الأساس (الشسمه) – فرانكشتاين -.

لا أدري عن حال الروايات الأخرى في القائمة القصيرة، ولكن إن كان هذا هو المستوى العام فالأولى حجب الجائزة، لا تقديمها هكذا.
Profile Image for Henk.
821 reviews
July 31, 2022
A tapestry of stories set in post invasion Baghdad. Bomb explosions and overall mayhem make the premise of a Frankenstein like avenger kind of believable, with the commentary on Iraqi society cleverly interwoven into the book
Anyway, the best way to protect yourself against evil is to stay close to it

Frankenstein in Baghdad is a highly imaginative book, with lots of humor despite the bleak setting in a Baghdad on the verge of civil war.
Bomb explosions form a part of everyday life, which for many still means trying in every conceivable way getting a leg versus others at their job, while hustling or when doing business a.k.a. conning each other (He fooled me, but don’t we always do that?). Alcohol consumption and infidelity are rather the norm than the exception in this seething mix of opportunism. The whole modern society is however contrasted with a supernatural government bureau, no doubt set up with generous influx of money following the American invasion, who try to discern occult signals that might indicate new terrorist attacks.
In short chapters, with mini-stories being told between the characters, the almost surrealist atmosphere of the city is taken to a next level when someone makes one corpse, Frankenstein style, complete, to challenge how the parts of people killed by bomb blasts are treated. This corpse goes onto a killing streak, is seen as a diving revenger, the Angel Azriel and even called Iraqi citizen Nr 1, since he really encompasses all the diversity of the country in one person. I kill in order to keep going he thinks, but what he is working towards is even unknown to him.

From a multi religious and diverse society to a terror filled, homogeneous Arab neighborhood seems the metaphor Ahmed Saadawi tells through his corpse.
Lots of people die, many leave the capital and others are disillusioned. No one is a saint or even a main character in the struggle of a country for its identity under extreme circumstances.

A thought provoking, compelling read, that in its surreal manner captures perfectly the lives and struggles of Iraqi people.
Profile Image for ياسر حارب.
Author 7 books5,816 followers
May 4, 2014
من أسوأ ما قرأت في حياتي.. لغة ركيكة وحبكة مهلهلة، ناهيك عن رداءة تنظيم النص حتى لا تكاد تميز بين السرد وبين الحوار. كيف فازت هذه الرواية وعزازيل بالجائزة نفسها!! لا أ��ري حقاً.. أنا مصدوم!
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,720 followers
October 23, 2022
Here is a lovingly portrayed community in Baghdad at a time when suicide bombers are regularly blowing themselves and others up in residential neighborhoods. The people who survive go about their business. The portrayal of the ways ordinary life goes on reflects a kind of fatalistic unreality that I imagine is something close to how people cope in real war zones. The core metaphor is brilliant: The animated, ensouled corpse that is the titular character of the novel perfectly captures the absurdity of war, and his actions perfectly capture the futility of ever trying to "win" a war, and the impossibility of ever reaching an outcome where all deaths are avenged, all evil eradicated, and all good restored.
Profile Image for Wish Alquraishy.
20 reviews4 followers
October 11, 2014
في الغالب عندما اقرأ رواية من اي نوع كانت اجدني عندما اقلب صفحاتها الاخيرة تجتاحني موجة من الحزن وتغرق عيناي بالدموع حتى لو لم تكن النهاية حزينة ولكني احزن لنهاية القصة التي عشت معها ايام قراءتي لها ،، اما رواية فرانكشتاين في بغداد فاني قضيت اغلب صفحاتها وانا ابكي ربما يستغرب البعض لذلك ويعتبر احداثها لا تدعو للبكاء ولكني بكيت لاني عاصرت هذه الاحداث وعشت معها واقعيا قبل ان اقرئها كرواية ف انا عراقية عاشت جميع ما ذكر في الرواية من قتل وخطف وتهديد وسيارات مفخخة وعبوات ناسفة وكل هذا عشته بحذافيره الشيء الوحيد الذي كان غريبا ولم اعرفه سابقا هو هذا ال الكائن الغريب الذي كان مسؤلا عن موت الجميع وهو الذي يحرك يد الموت نحونا الواحد تلو الاخر ومما اراه انه مازال حيا ومازال يمارس مهنة الموت في العراق بل ان دائرة عمله اتسعت لتشمل العراق وبقية بلدان الوطن العربي ،، ترى من يكون هذا الكائن الغريب؟؟ هذا الذي اسماه هادي العتاگ باسم ،الشسمه،، ولقبه محمود السوادي ب ،، فرانكشتاين،، وسماه كبير المنجمين ب ،، الذي لا اسم له،، من هو ياترى هذا الذي يتسبب بموتنا علنا يوميا ؟؟
لقد اعادت الي هذه الرواية مشاعر قديمة نوعا ما نسيتها مشاعر الحزن على بيتنا الذي تهدم نتيجة قصف الامريكان قبل عدة سنوات ومشاعر خروجنا من مسكننا ومن منطقتنا بسبب الوضع الامني السيء وغير ذلك من مشاعر كلها حزينة ومؤلم
لقد ابدع احمد سعداوي في وصف ما جرى للعراق بدقة وماتعرض ابنائه له من ظلم وقسوة وقتل وكل انواع التجاوز والظلم التي تخطر على بال بشر او حتى تلك التي لا تخطر على بال احد
ربما من يقرا الرفيو خاصتي يشعر اني ابالغ في الوصف ولكن العراقي الذي يقرأه سيستشعر بالتاكيد ما اصفه ويعذرني ،،
تركت اوراقها الاخيرة لوقت اخر بسبب موجة الدموع التي غرقت بها عيناي
Profile Image for Ina Cawl.
92 reviews287 followers
January 26, 2018
reading these book reminded the daily horror many people face from Baghdad to Kabul to Mogadishu
where death toll raises so much that it hardens your heart and just recite the numbers of victims of these or that explosions without pondering behind these numbers lies people who lived loved and had families but cowardly hand of death stole them from their beloved one.
not knowing if you leavehome you will return safely you prepare your will and recite it before you step out of the house and pray you return to your home in one piece
Longer review to come
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,254 reviews49 followers
April 21, 2018
My fourth book from the MBI shortlist and sixth including the longlist - this was probably the one I enjoyed least.

The perspective on Baghdad from an Iraqi is not one we hear much of so that was interesting, but I didn't feel the Frankenstein element of the story worked very well and I am not sure that much of the humour translated.

An interesting book but not an essential one.
Profile Image for Aliaa Mohamed.
1,062 reviews2,198 followers
February 12, 2014
لا أعلم ما هى الأسباب الحقيقية وراء إدراج رواية ما ف قائمة البوكر سواء الطويلة او القصيرة منها ؟!
لو كانت الأسباب تتمثل ف البراعة الأدبية فتلك الرواية بعيدة كل البعد عن ذلك ،، وإذا كان لجمال التعبير عن الفكرة فالرواية ايضا بعيدة عن ذلك ،، وإذا كان للحبكة الدرامية فالرواية لا يتحقق فيها ذلك ايضا ،، ومن ثم لأى سبب تم إدراج مثل هذه الرواية ف القائمة الطويلة للبوكر ؟ الله وحده أعلى وأعلم !

لا انكر ف البداية ان الرواية كان بها شيئا ما تمكن من جذبى والإسراع ف القراءة لمعرفة النهاية ولكن تبخر ذلك ف الهواء بمجرد اقترابى من الصفحات الأخيرة للرواية لأندم ع ما اضعته من وقت ف هذا الهراء .

الفكرة قد تكون جديدة ومبتكرة وجميلة ورائعة وبها جميع الصفات الحسنة ولكن الكاتب فشل بشكل كبير ف محاولة صياغتها بشكل أدبى متماسك فجاء البناء العام متفكك والحبكة الدرامية ف حالة من الفقر الادبى ،، فشل المؤلف ف إيصال ما يرغب ف إيصاله لدرجة جعلتنى اشعر انه ف نهاية الرواية لم يستطع إنهائها فوضع خاتمة هلامية لا تعنى شئ إلا لمجرد الانتهاء من عبء الرواية !

قد يكون ف كلامى بعض القسوة ع الكاتب ولكن كنت سأقدر ذلك العمل ف حالة واحدة فقط إذا لم يصل للبوكر وكانت مجرد رواية عادية ،، ولكن ما دامت قد وصلت للقائمة الطويلة فلا بد من جلد ذات المؤلف !

نجمتان فقط للفكرة والبداية اما الباقى فلا يستحق شيئا سوى الندم
Profile Image for Paul Fulcher.
Author 2 books1,169 followers
September 15, 2022
Book 5/13 from a very strong Man Booker International longlist - and like the other 4 I've read a shortlist contender!

New listeners risked missing the pleasures of the story if they insisted on challenging it right from the start. The logical objections were usually left to the end, and no one interfered with the way the story was told or with the subplots Hadi went into.

Originally published in 2014, and winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the 2018 English translation by Jonathan Wright of Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad must be a strong contender for this year’s Man Booker International Prize.

Set in Baghdad in 2005. “a place of murder and gratuitous violence”, amidst the bloody insurgency in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war and the growing sectarian conflicts, the story opens with one of the many bombings that hit the city in that year. But for one character, Hadi, a low-life dealer in bric-a-brac, the scene presents a bizarre opportunity:

Hadi watched the scene with eagle eyes, looking for something in particular amid this binge of death and devastation. Once he was sure he had seen it, he threw his cigarette to the ground and rushed to grab it before a powerful jet of water could blast it down into the sewer. He wrapped it in his canvas sack, folded the sack under his arm, and left the scene.

We soon discover, at least according to his bar-room stories, that what he finds is an intact human nose from a dismembered victim of a bomb. And this is the last piece he needs to complete Whatsitsname, a reconstructed body he has assembled from the parts of various victims, an obsession that began when a close friend of his was killed in a bomb and the mortuary could only offer him his pick from an assortment of body parts to bury.

A few days later, distracted by Hadi passing by, Hasib a security guard at the Novotel hotel wanders put of his security booth, and is confronted by a rubbish truck driving at high speed towards the hotel gates:

When Hasib saw the rubbish truck, many possible explanations flooded his mind. It was just a rubbish truck. The driver had made a mistake –he had lost control and veered off towards the hotel gate. There had been a traffic accident, and the driver had sped off and was unintentionally heading for the gate. No, it was a suicide bomber. Stop! Stop! One shot, then another. He didn’t mean to kill the driver. He wouldn’t dare kill anyone, but this was his duty. He was well aware of the strict orders about protecting the hotel. There were security companies and important people and maybe Americans in it.

And the soul of Hasib, unable to locate its almost vaporised body, instead animates the body of Whatisname:

Overwhelmed by a heaviness and torpor, he lodged inside the corpse, filling it from head to toe, because probably, he realized then, it didn’t have a soul, while he was a soul without a body.

The resulting Frankenstein like creation starts to take revenge on behalf of the victims who comprise it against those it holds responsible for their deaths, although he is no monster as Mahmoud, a journalist discovers:

This was the second or third time Mahmoud had listened to the Whatsitsname’s recordings. He couldn’t get over the shock of the story or the soft, calm voice in which it had been recounted.

Saadawi cleverly allows the reader to form their own view on whether the resulting Saramagoesque story is, even within the novel’s confines, simply an urban legend, perhaps a cover story for the true activities of Brigadoer Majid’a rather sinister department, or if they are actually true.

There are laws that human beings are unaware of. These laws don’t operate around the clock like the physical laws by which the wind blows, the rain falls, and rocks fall down mountains, or like other laws that human beings can observe, verify, and define because they apply to things that recur. There are laws that operate only under special conditions, and when something happens under these laws, people are surprised and say it’s impossible, that it’s a fairy tale or in the best case a miracle. They don’t say they’re unaware of the law behind it. People are deluded and never admit their ignorance.

Saadawi does this firstly by employing a framing device that presents the book as a report on a renegade department of the Iraqi civil forces reporting to the occupying authorities, a department which took as its task investigating the occult (in their view, Iraq’s strongest defence against the US invasion were its djinn, only for the Americans to deploy stronger supernatural forces of their own), and the story we are reading is claimed to be a novel discovered during their investigations:

With regard to the activities of the Tracking and Pursuit Department, which is partially affiliated to the civil administration of the international coalition forces in Iraq, the special committee of inquiry set up under my chairmanship, with representatives of the Iraqi security and intelligence agencies and observers from US military intelligence, has come to the following conclusions:
It is clear that the department had been operating outside its area of expertise, which should have been limited to such bureaucratic matters as archiving information and preserving files and documents. Under the direct management of Brigadier Majid, it had employed several astrologers and fortune-tellers, on high salaries financed by the Iraqi treasury, not by the US authorities.

Secondly, Hadi himself is established as a well known fabricator of fantastic tales – indeed even he isn’t clear at times if he really created Whatitsname or simply invented the story:

Hadi was a liar, and everyone knew it. He would need witnesses to corroborate a claim of having had fried eggs for breakfast, let alone a story about a naked corpse made up of the body parts of people killed in explosions.
A seed of fear had started to grow deep inside him, and he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Because lies can come true.

One striking thing in the story is how the aftermaths of even major bombs are simply tidied away:

If she had gone straight back to Tayaran Square, she would have found that everything was calm, just as she had left it in the morning. The pavements would be clean and the cars that had caught fire would have been towed away. The dead would have been taken to the forensics department and the injured to the Kindi Hospital. There would be some shattered glass here and there, a pole blackened with smoke, and a hole in the asphalt, though she wouldn’t have been able to make out how big it was because of her blurred vision.

And life goes on. The rich cast of characters are largely precoccupied with doing business and property deals (“the dire strait of the country offered opportunities only to the bold and adventurous”) the ins-and-ours of office politics, finding a partner (for life or if not, at least for the night), enjoying food and drink in venues from local dives to luxury venues; the bombings and ever present threat of a sudden violent end are in one sense simply the (literally) everyday background noise against which they live their lives. It is the very normality with which such horrifying incidents come to be accepted that adds to the horror for the reader.

But that isn’t to say the novel downplays the brutal reality of the bombings. Even for someone who has encountered several such incidents, they still shock:

The smell suddenly hit his nostrils –the smoke, the burning of plastic and seat cushions, the roasting of human flesh. You wouldn’t have smelled anything like it in your life and would never forget it.

And of course the very fear of violence itself creates deaths, notably in the Al-Aaimmah Bridge stampede in August 2005 caused by a false report of a suicide bomber in a massive crowd of pilgrims, which is included, in a fictionalized version, in the novel.

Whatitsname’s campaign gets increasingly sophisticated as he takes on higher profile targets, and he attracts followers who inevitably end up in sectarian conflicts of their own. And as he revenges each victim, the corresponding body part falls off and begins the natural process of decay, leading him to need to seek body parts from new victims to replace to enable his body to stay intact so he can complete his mission:

‘My list of people to seek revenge on grew longer as my old body parts fell off and my assistants added parts from my new victims, until one night I realized that under these circumstances I would face an open-ended list of targets that would never end.

This spiral of never-ending violence is clearly a metaphor for the situation in Iraq, as is the increasing confusion as to whether the ‘victims’ from whom his parts are taken are actually themselves also villains responsible for the deaths of others:

Every day we’re dying from the same fear of dying. The groups that have given shelter and support to al-Qaeda have done so because they are frightened of another group, and this other group has created and mobilized militias to protect itself from al-Qaeda. It has created a death machine working in the other direction because it’s afraid of the Other. And we’re going to see more and more death because of fear. The government and the occupation forces have to eliminate fear. They must put a stop to it if they really want this cycle of killing to end.

Others such as the Head of the Tracking and Pursuit Department have no loyalty except to power and fear is the currency in which they trade, his mission being to “create an equilibrium of violence” between the different factions.

The man would have no qualms about using brute force to serve those in power, whether Saddam Hussein, the Americans or the new government. Brigadier Majid had served or would serve them all.

But ultimately the book’s message is that violence begats violence and fear begats fear and, as Whatitsname repeats to himself as a mantra:

There are no innocents who are completely innocent or criminals who are completely criminal.
I kill in order to keep going.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Mohammed.
422 reviews511 followers
December 22, 2022
المأساة مألوفة وتتكرر في أغلب الحروب والأزمات، الداخلية منها على وجه الخصوص. يبدأ سفك الدماء على هيئة تصفية حسابات بين الخصوم، ويقع فيها أبرياء، ثم يغدو انتقاماً مبنياً على تصفية الحسابات، ويسقط أبرياء بين الخصوم. ينتقل الصراع بعد ذلك إلى مرحلة التخلص من المتعاونين مع المنافسين والمتعاطفين معهم، ثم تتدحرج كرة الثلج حتى تصل إلى التنكيل بالأبرياء مباشرة، ربما لإلقاء التهمة على الأعداء، أو ربما لئلا يتعثر بهم المتحاربون. لا مشكلة هناك، فمن يتذوق الدماء يشتاق لإراقتها، بمبرر أو بدونه.

نحن في عراق ما بعد الاجتياح الأمريك��، تساعدنا هذه الرواية على مشاهدة ساحة الفوضى بعدسة مجهر. نراقب الشاب والهرم، المسيحي والمسلم، المنتفع والمترفع، البريء والنجس. لا يعني هذا بالضرورة أنك ستملك القدرة على إصدار الأحكام. فالظروف تجعل من الحمَل ذئباً ومن طاهر الذيل حقوداً. وفي هذا السياق، فشخصيات الرواية متنوعة كقطع الفسيفساء: الأم المسيحية المكلومة بفقدان ولدها، تاجر العقارات الانتهازي الذي يقتات على مصائب الناس، الصحفي الشاب الطموح الذي يحلم بأن يكون على صورة رئيسه في العمل ولكنه يصارع ضميره بين الفينة والأخرى...إلى جانب العديد من الشخصيات التي تمثل كافة أطياف المجتمع العراقي.

وفي حقيقة الأمر، فالشخصيات والقصص، قد تُشعر القارئ بأنه في حالة (ديجا فو) أخرى، فهذه قد لا تكون أول رواية يقرؤها عن الوضع العراقي. ولكن أينشتاين البغدادي يقلب الموازين، فظهوره يعطي الرواية مسحة من الواقعية السحرية مع كمية إثارة لا بأس بها مع بُعد رمزي وفلسفي يستحق التأمل.

رواية متقنة، مؤلمة، بسيطة وعميقة في الآن ذاته.
Profile Image for Neil.
1,007 reviews625 followers
January 17, 2018
Frankenstein in Baghdad was originally published in Arabic in 2013. In 2014, it was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (sometimes known as the "Arabic Booker"). It is now (early-2018) being made available in English translation (by Jonathan Wright). Writing in the New York Times in 2014, Tim Arango said "Mr. Saadawi … is at the vanguard of a small group of writers starting to interpret, through fiction, the trauma wrought from the American invasion of 2003.". And you can judge how important this book is for the Iraqi people from the fact that the article goes on to quote another Iraqi author (Ibrahim Abdul Jabbar) as saying about Saadawi, and this book in particular, that "He has given us faith that Iraq is still alive, and we are the ones who can make change if we have the will."

In fact, the whole article by Arango is worth reading: here.

Framed as a story developed from documents sent to "the author" by a source within the Tracking and Pursuit Department, Frankenstein in Baghdad tells the story a monster on the loose in Baghdad. It is magical realism. It is gothic horror. It is an exploration of the damage done to property, culture and people by the war.

I was staggered to discover this Wikipedia page when doing some background research. The book is set in 2005 (the year of the first free elections after the fall of Hussein) and this page lists the acts of terror in Iraq during that year: Wikipedia. It is a sobering read and the book itself is punctuated by ongoing acts of terror (suicide bombings). We learn a bit of what it is to live in a city scarred by war and its consequences. For an outsider (e.g. me) this is harrowing reading, but it is impossible not to pause and imagine what it must be like for the actual inhabitants of the city and what it must be like to read this book if you have been part of the story it tells.

The book begins with a suicide bombing:

"The explosion was horrific—and here Hadi looked to Aziz for confirmation. Hadi had run out of the coffee shop. He had been eating some of the beans that Ali al-Sayed made in the shop next door and that Hadi ate for breakfast every morning. On his way out of the shop he collided with people running from the explosion. The smell suddenly hit his nostrils—the smoke, the burning of plastic and seat cushions, the roasting of human flesh. You wouldn’t have smelled anything like it in your life and would never forget it."

And this sets the tone for the book where everyday actions of living in the city (coffee, breakfast, etc.) are mingled with acts of terror and gore. In fact, in one of life’s unpleasant coincidences, the day I wrote this review (15 Jan 2018) was marked by a huge suicide bombing in the same city square as the one that opens this book, making the message of this book all the more important and contemporary.

Near the start of the book, we meet Hadi who has assembled a corpse from body parts he has gathered in the aftermath of the multiple suicide bombings that are destroying Baghdad. By a bizarre series of events, that corpse is animated and becomes the Frankenstein-type of the book’s title. The creature becomes a metaphor for the war that has wreaked havoc in Baghdad. Initially, the Whatsitsname (the label given to the creature) sets out to kill the people responsible for the deaths of those who make up his body. But, like war, it does not stop there:

"There’s no harm in warning him so he doesn’t offend me again. I’m now taking revenge on people who insult me, not just on those who did violence to those whose body parts I’m made of," the Whatsitsname said.

The killing gets out of control, mirroring the impact and destructive patterns of war in the city.

The book is all the more chilling for the sparsity of its prose. Saadawi does not mess around with words, but he does notice some macabre details that bring home the reality of life in a war torn city:

"In the coffin they put his burned black shoes; his shredded, bloodstained clothes; and small charred parts of his body."

And, in parallel with the story of the Whatsitsname, we see other stories of people in Baghdad as they develop and interact. It is worthwhile spending some time on the character list at the start of the book as this makes the story easier to follow, especially for Western readers who will find some of the names hard to remember. Don’t be fooled by the title: this is not just a horror story about a monster. It is about people, it is about life in Iraq, it is about the consequences of war.

This has all the feel of a very important book. Important primarily for the people it is about and who must be its primary target. But also important for the rest of the world, which makes its English translation a significant event. As Arango says in his review:

"For the Americans, though, turning their experiences into fiction is a retrospective act, because their war ended. For Iraqis like Mr. Saadawi, the war is still their present, haunting their reality even as they try to make the best of it — going to work in the morning, putting dinner on the table, watering the plants."

Like me, you may not read many books that concentrate on magical realism, allegory and symbolism. But you should read this one.
451 reviews2,942 followers
March 15, 2018

هي الرواية الأولى من قائمة البوكر القصيرة التي جعلتني اقع في الحيرة
أولا أخذت بالفكرة فهي بلاشك فكرة رائعة خاصة في استغلال البيئة العراقية وخرائب الحرب والواقع العراقي حقيقة كان مناسبا لاختبار مثل فكرة فرانكشتاين جديد يظهر في بغداد والدخول في العالم الغرائبي يناسب أوضاع وقائع الحروب مخلفاتها وآثارها لذلك يحسب لهذا الكاتب هذه الفكرة الخلاقة والسرد من خلالها للتعبير عن حالة الفوضى التي سببتها أنظمة سياسية لا ترحم وحالة الدمار التي خلفتها الحرب ناهيك عن العنف الطائفي والإنهيار الأخلاقي الذي رافق كل هذا فيشعرك الكاتب منذ أول وهلة إنك قد دخلت إلى الجحيم !

بعد الفكرة تأتي الشخصيات والحق إن شخصيات هذه الرواية شخصيات بارزة أو مرسومة باقتدار ويظهر العتاك كشخصية تقود الأحداث وتحركها سواء في خلق شخصية فرانكشتاين أو في سرده للحكاية لرواد المقهي ثم للصحافة وتعرضه للضرب والأعتقال ووصمه بالكذب وهو ما يتناسب مع طبيعته النفسية والمزاجية
بينما تأتي شخصية محمود الصحفي كشخصية داخلها غير منسجم مع خارجها كحال الكثيرين المتردد والقلق والذي يبحث عن نفسه وسط كل هذه الفوضى وعلى الرغم من ذلك لديه تطلعاته وأحلامه وبظني أن شخصية محمود شكلت في ناحية ما الجانب الإنساني الغائب في هذه الفوضى سواء في علاقته مع زينة أو رغباته برفيقة رئيسه في العمل وفي جانب آخر هي شخصية كاشفة ونموذج هام لإكتشاف آثار سير الأحداث وتردي الأوضاع على الرواية ..

أم دانيال شخصية أخرى يتضح فيها الجانب الإنساني والأماني المعلقة في واقع يعاني من جروح كثيرة مازالت تنزف .. دانيال الزعوم أو شخصية فرانكشتاين من أهم شخصيات الرواية والتي ظهرت من خلال سرد العتاك وكنتُ سعيدة بوجود مونولوج لفرانكشتاين تظهر فيه شهادته عن الأحداث التي يتحدث عنها الآخرين إلا إن هذا الجزء من الرواية لم يكن على مستوى الحدث وبظني إن فرانكشتاين السارد لم يظهر لي كقارىء بهذه القوة التي كنتُ انتظرها من قاتل يبحث عن البقاء وأغلب الظن أن الكاتب أراد أن يظهر ضعف القاتل أكثر من قوته لما تقتضيه عبثية الأحداث

ما أزعجني في هذه الرواية هو الحديث المباشر عن المخلص والبطل الوهمي الذي يصنعه الآخر وهي الفكرة الرئيسية التي قامت عليها الرواية وما لم أحبه هو هذا التصريح الذي جاء على لسان الراوي في الرواية وأحسب أن القارىء في رواية مثل هذه عليه أن يجتهد ليصل إلى فكرتها دون أن يأخذ الكاتب بيده ! ثانيا يشوب الرواية الكثير من المشاهد المكررة وأحسب أن الرواية جنحت إلى المط والتطويل دون أحداث تذكر ، نعم هناك جزء ممل في الرواية وأحداثها بدأت وكأنها تعيد نفسها وتبدو كأنها تترنح بتكاسل وأظن لو إن الرواية اختصرت نفسها لما ضرها ذلك فرواية الدكتور جيكل ومستر هايد مثلا لا تزيد عن 120 صفحة ولم يعجزه ذلك في أن يظهر الوحوش النائمة في شخصياته !
وهذا الأمر دفعني لقراءة الجزء ما قبل الأخير بقلة تركيز حقيقة كما إنني أخذت أعد صفحاتها المتبقية وكأن هناك شيء ما يثقل على قلبي إلا إن نهاية الرواية كانت جيدة وتركت لدي شعورا مريحا هو الشعور الذي يحسه القارىء بأن الكاتب قد أبلى بلاءا حسنا !

بظني أن الرواية بسبب فكرتهاالغريبة
وحبكة شخصياتها الفريدة قد تكون لها فرصة في البوكر ..

Profile Image for Lata.
3,503 reviews187 followers
April 13, 2018
Not simply a retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this book’s author uses the reanimated, stitched together corpse to show the tension, danger and chaos ever-present in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The author follows a few individuals as their lives intersect, thanks to the monster, who was reanimated by the ghost of a security guard killed in a suicide bombing. And there are multiple suicide bombings in this story, along with a secret government department with corrupt and dangerous members, genuine fear for American actions, multiple groups’ vying for control, of the city, crumbled and destroyed infrastructure and a variety of other despair-inducing circumstances. The author provides a good picture of the damage and destruction caused in Iraq post-American invasion. As a story, I found this book a little slow and was not always sure why certain story elements were present. And this book is not a retread of the classic Frankenstein, and once I got my head around that, I was able to follow the characters living their lives in the chaotic city, while the monster was on a self-appointed mission to kill criminals. I was a little amused by the reference to Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the monster by one of the characters. I cannot say I enjoyed this book, but I was able to appreciate the portrayal of the people and the city in this book.
Profile Image for Viv JM.
689 reviews154 followers
March 15, 2018
Frankenstein in Baghdad is a book that's been receiving rave reviews, was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and has now also been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. I thought I would love it and yet, I didn't :-(.

For the most part, I found myself slogging through it, not really getting the cultural references, not really able to feel much connection to any of the characters (although I did like Elishva), not really seeing the relevance of some parts and well, just not really enjoying it. I certainly didn't find it "horrifically funny" as promised on the cover blurb. Ah well, maybe it's just a case of it being the wrong book at the wrong time for me. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
Profile Image for Ice Jabar.
33 reviews34 followers
June 26, 2020
"كل الذين يموتون يوميًا، يأخذون حذرهم في الغالب"

تمثلُ هذه محاولتي الثالثة، وربما الرابعة، لقراءةِ هذهِ الرواية، حيثُ كانت بشكل أو بآخر دائمًا قرب رأسي، تقبع في زاويةٍ ما من زوايا غرفة نومي، منذ سبع سنين أو ما يزيد قليلًا، وكيف أنها -رغم إني لم أكملها سابقًا- مثلت دخولي إلى عالم القراءة، وكانت أولَ كتابٍ خاصٍ بي، أبتعتهُ بنفسي ليكون ملكي أنا، أنا وحدي، لا مجردَ كتابٍ عن قصة حبٍ لا تهمني أستعيرهُ من أحدى أدراج خزانة أُمي، من دونِ علمها حتى، أو من كتبِ أبي المهترئة، المرميةِ داخِلَ أحدى عُلب العلية، وعليه فهو كتابٌ خاصٌ ومهمٌ بالنسبةِ لي♥️

كبداية، لم أقرأ في ما سبق روايةً عراقية مليئة بالفانتازيا، لم تخرج عن الواقع كثيرًا في وصفها للشخوص، الأماكن، الحزن الذي يغلف هذه الشخوص، والجثث التي تملئ هذه الأماكن، لكن بطلنا كان شخصيةً تم تكوينها بطريقةٍ إعجازية...

"أجتمعت دعوات الضحايا وأهاليهم مرةً واحدة ودفعت بزخمها الصاخب تلكَ العتلات الخفية، فتحركَت أحشاءُ العتمة وأنجبتني."

مخاطرةً كبيرة من الكاتب، كوننا أكثرُ اعتيادًا على ما يسمى بالمدرسةِ الواقعية، لكنها بكل تأكيدٍ مخاطرةٌ مثمرة، فالمكانة التي وصلت اليها الرواية غير مسبوقة، كما أن هذه الإضافة جعلت العمل ككُل تجربةً منعشة، طازجة، وغير متوقعة بالكامل.

وهذه الأخيرة تستحق الإسهاب قليلًا، كونها كانت حاضرة في كل صغيرةٍ وكبيرة، ومن منا لا يحاول توقع ما هو قادم في ما يقرأ؟
لكن هل من الممكن توقع أحداث هذه الرواية؟
توقع أهداف الشخصيات ودواخلها؟
توقع التطورات القادمة؟
توقع على الأقل كيفَ سينتهي هذا الفصل؟
وما هو محور الفصل القادم؟!
الإجابة على كل الأسئلةِ السابقة هي ذاتها، كلا، من غير الممكن.
وهذه ميزةٌ أضفت نهمًا إضافيًا لمعرفة المكان الذي ستتجه إليه الأحداث، وما هي مصائر أبطالنا، كما انها نقطةٌ تستحق الثناء، ثناءٌ سيتكرر كثيرًا ليصبحَ الصفة الأغلبَ على هذهِ المرجعة، الثناء الذي أخصُ به أخيلةَ الكاتبِ أكثر من غيرها من العناصر والأدوات، الأخيلة التي أستمرت بمفاجأتي، أنا على الأقل.

أحببتُ الألاعيب السردية المتعددة، فعدا تبدل السفراء -الذي سأتناولهُ بإسهابٍ أكبر بعدَ ثلاثِ سطور من الآن- نرى تبدل الخطوط الزمنية، كذلك وجود شخصية "المؤلف" داخل الأحداث، والذي يضفي شيئًا من الإثارة، والبداية حيثُ سننتهي، وغيرها من لمسات لطالما أحببتها، طالما انها لا تسبب أيَّ التباس...

كُنا نستثمرُ تغير سفرائنا داخل أحداث الرواية، في بداية كلِ فصلٍ من فصول الثلث الأول، لنتعرفَ على تفاصيلٍ جديدةً عن قصتنا الرئيسية، بعض الخطوط السردية المتفرعة التي تخص هذه الشخصيةَ دونَ غيرها، ولنتعرفَ كذلك من خلالِ هذه الرحلة على الشخصيةِ نفسها، بتفاصيلها المميزة، وماضيها الذي تبقى عادةً، إحدى زواياهُ مظلمة، لتستمر الرغبةُ في العودة، إلى أنْ نصلَ إلى نقطةٍ معينة تربطنا بالقصة، ربما حيثُ توقفنا في الفصل السابق، لنضيفَ عضوًا جديدًا إلى جسد القصة، وهي طريقةٌ فعالةٌ جدًا على مستوى تقديم الشخصيات، ومنعشةٌ على مستوى تنوع وجهات النظر والزوايا التي نتعرفُ من خلالها على ما هو قادم، واحيانًا، على ما تمَّ تقديمهُ بالفعل...

كما أن تطور الشخصيات وطريقة رسم خطوطها البيانية داخل معادلةِ القصة كان واقعيًا ومنطقيًا إلى حدٍ كبير، لمن هم يملكون مساحةً للتطور طبعًا، فقد تابعنا أحد الشخصيات (وهي شخصيتي المفضلة) في رحلة تحولٍ مثيرة جدًا، رحلةُ عبورٍ من ضفةٍ إلى أخرى، بعد أن كانَ واحدًا منا، وكيفَ يسعى الآنَ ليصبحَ واحدًا منهم، كما شاهدنا في حياتنا كثيرًا مِن مَن كُنا نعرفهم قبل السنةِ المشؤومة، أو على الأقل كُنا نظن أننا نعرفهم، وكيف تحولوا إلى كائناتٍ وصولية لايهِمها سوى الاستمرارِ بصعودِ سلم السلطة، وإن كانت درجاتهُ مصنوعةً من لحمِ ودم.
ف"من يرتدي تاجًا، ولو على سبيل التجربة، سيبحثُ لاحقًا عن مملكة"

أحسست بقرابةِ كبيرة أثناءَ الوصف الواضحِ لأماكن وقوع الأحداث♥️

كما أحببتُ الاستخدام الفعال للهجةِ العراقية على غير العادة، فأنا عادةً لا أستسيغ سماعها في أي مكان، أكرهُ سماعها في الأعمال التلفزيونيةِ مثلًا، كما أستغرب وجودها داخلَ الكتب، لأشعر كأنها مقحمة بشكلٍ أو بآخر، لكنها هنا كانت موظفة بشكلٍ معتدل وسلس، لتمثِلَ إضافةً لا مأخذًا♥️

وعلى غرار الأماكن واللغة، لاحظتُ وجود كثيرٍ من الشخصياتِ النمطية بشكلٍ يجعلها قريبةً جدًا من الواقع، فلا بدَ لك أن تجد من هم مثلها حولك، كما هو الحال مع "فرج الدلال"، ب عرقچينهِ وآياته المؤطرة بإطارٍ خشبي، وجشعه وسعيهِ للإستيلاء على كل ما هو متاحٌ وممكن مستغلًا الفوضى والجو العام المنفلت، ليخالفَ كلَ ما تدعو اليهِ تلكَ الآيات المؤطرة والتي تملئُ جدرانهُ، وغيرها من آياتٍ الكتاب عينه.

"��ا تموتين وتخلصيني، عمر تفگة؟ رب الحلو!"

كمزيدٍ من الأمثلة، لدينا أبو سمير المصري، أبو أنمار، وحتى نابو 🐈

لكن مع تتابع الفصول، أصبحَ تكرار نفس العلامات التي كانت تميز معظم شخصياتنا، مملًا نوعًا ما...

عانى بعدها بطلنا الخارق من الحيرة، فلا الشرُ واضح، ولا الخيرُ واضح، ولا العدالةُ مفهومةٌ، أو على الأقل ممكنة!
وهي معضلة حقيقية، فالظلام الذي يحيط بنا من كل جانب، لا يمكن معه لأي فارسٍ أن يقودنا نحوَ فجرً جديد، فمن أي يبدأ؟!
الحيرة، الإحباط، التخبط وغيرها من الصفات المشابهة التي ستُتَوَجُ بلا شك بفقدانٍ تامٍ للأمل، أو ما هو أسوأ، فقدانٌ تام للبوصلة.

ورغم انني نفيت قبلَ عدةِ فقراتٍ أمكانية توقع ما هو قادم، إلا أنني وبعد إكمالي ثلثي القصة، وكما جرت العادةُ في أيِّ قصةٍ كانت، أبدأ لا شعوريًا ببناءِ توقعٍ لطريقةِ نهاية هذه القصة، بناءً على الاتجاه الذي اتخذته قصتنا طوال ما سبق، وأبدأ بالتزامن، وضعَ ملامح النهاية الأكثر ملائَمةً بالنسبة إلي، حتى وأن كانت بعيدةً عن ما "متوقع".
لكن أثناءَ قرائتي لهذه القصة، صادفتُ حالةً جديدة، فلا أنا قادرٌ على توقع ما هو قادم، أو على الأقل ما هو ممكن وغير ممكن، ولا أنا قادر على رسمِ النهاية المثلى بالنسبة لي، أو على الأقل ما يهمني من هذه القصة، سواءً كانَ هذا شخصيةً، معلَمًا، أو مبدًأ!
شعور غريب، تلاشى فور انتهائي من قرآءةِ آخر السطور، فما نعيشهُ فعلًا ليس لهُ نهاية، ولن يقوى أحدٌ على توقعها، ولن يجرؤ كاتبٌ على خطها بشكلٍ أو بآخر، ورغم كل الغموض الذي غلف كلَّ شيءٍ تقريبًا، ورغم أنني لا أفضلُ النهايات المفتوحة على مثيلاتها المحسومة، إلا أنه لا يمكنني هنا، سوى الاعتراف بأنها النهايةُ المثالية.

وفي سياقٍ متصل مع النقطة السابقة، فأن أكثرَ ما أعجبني أنَّ الغموض لم يكن على مستوى الأحداث فحسب، بل أمتدَ ليشمل شخوص الأحداث، فلا يمكنك أن تعرف -بشكل قاطع- ما إذا كان "باهر السعيدي" صادقًا مثلًا؟
ما إذا ما كانت "نوال" لعوبًا؟
هل هادي العتاگ "كلاوچي" فعلًا؟!
وهل كانَ أيٌ من ما قرأناهُ حقيقةً أصلًا!

كل هذا ما هو إلا عينةٌ من الأسئلة التي ستختلف إجاباتها من قارئ لآخر، فأنت الحكم هنا، أنت من تحدد المجرم من البريء، لكن أثناءَ حكمكَ هذا تذكر أن المسألةَ نسبية، فلا وجودَ لشخصٌ بريء ونقي بشكل كامل...

وعليه ولكل ما سبق، فأن تقييمي النهائي هو...
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
February 6, 2021
“The king ordered that the saint be placed in the olive press until his flesh was torn to pieces and he died. They then threw him out of the city, but the Lord Jesus gathered the pieces together and brought him back to life, and he went back into the city”—The Story of St. George, the Great Martyr”

Frankenstein in Baghdad is an amazing novel that clearly assumes you at least know about Mary Shelley’s work, which it riffs off in a political/spiritual landscape set in the ongoing nightmare wreckage of Baghdad, Iraq, a place we all know as a site of suicide bombings, car bombs and terror more than its historical relation as the cultural mecca it remains. So it’s horror—as is Frankenstein—featuring a monster, but it is also an anguished love letter to and lament for the author’s beloved city. Filled with lyrical writing, honoring the dead there, it also possesses one of the darkest veins of black humor I have ever read. Fitting to use horror, surrealism, magical realism when there are just no words in the vocabulary of realism for the emotional effects of a terrorist act.

Hadi, a junk dealer, gathers body parts from the wreckage of unending bombings so he piece together a whole body and can give his friend Nahem a proper burial. Elishva too, wants to properly mourn her son, Daniel, killed in the Iran-Iraq War, though Elishva doesn’t yet quite accept he is dead. Hadi finds body parts where he can, from a range of humans attached to sects, good folks, criminals, whatever. And presto! We have a material representation, a map, of the body politic of Iraq, a deeply sad if macabre rendering of a body of fragments that fall off and need to be replaced all the time by the body parts of newly dead..

“Because I'm made up of body parts of people from diverse backgrounds - ethnicities, tribes, races and social classes - I represent the impossible mix that never was achieved in the past. I'm the first true Iraqi citizen, he (the Whatsitsname) thinks.”

But one day this body, this Whatisname, walks away and begins to take revenge on those he sees as responsible for what has happened to the collective him and his country. Revenge, you ask? I thought this was poetry, a national tragedy! What about the need to heal? Well, this is Frankenstein territory, which means it is horror, in a world gone very very wrong. Macabre? Right, but also surprisingly lyrical and elegiac and tragic and sad even as it is sometimes bizarrely funny. For instance, in the process, Elishva claims Whatisname as Daniel, her son, returning as promised by St George!

How to get at the humor? Well, there’s a certain kind of rage and tenderness that attends Hadi’s job of stitching together bodies but its also outrageous comedy. And religion is part of what heals us but also divides and sometimes destroys us, so some of what we read acknowledges its importance and sometimes it is just flat out satire. And there’s this tender aspect of caring about the material body and in another light it’s a ludicrous act of desecration. It’s surreal, this act, impossible, and yet hopeful, giving hope in one instance to a mother who thinks her long lost son has come back home, not dead at all.

There’s so much I am not getting at here. The stories that people tell both sustain and obfuscate: Hadi was a well-known liar. Can we even believe his story of whatisname? What about all these djinns and apparitions and saints?

Frankenstein in Baghdad was originally published in Arabic in 2013. In 2014, it was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (sometimes known as the "Arabic Booker"). And I think it is a masterpiece I'll never forget, and will need to read again to better understand.
Profile Image for Ahmed Oraby.
908 reviews3,318 followers
December 4, 2017
هي غالبا أحسن رواية قرأتها السنة دي، هكتب عنها، طبعا، لما التاب يتصلح
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,746 reviews1,195 followers
April 12, 2018
Hadi’s listeners were completely wrapped up in the story. New listeners risked missing the pleasures of the story if they insisted on challenging it right from the start. The logical objections were usually left to the end, and no one interfered with the way the story was told or with the sub-plots Hadi went into.

This book won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction which for the still Iraqi based author gave him $50,000 and, for English readers, the guarantee that this vitally important novel would be translated to English.

It has now, unsurprisingly, been shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize - and must have a strong chance to win (or failing that to win the 2019 Best Translated Book Award in the US).

The book is set in the Al-Bataween district of Baghdad, and which I think is in itself a key character in the novel and certainly some understanding of the nature of this district helps in comprehending the book. From my limited internet research, my summary would be as follows.

Al-Batween was at one stage an affluent Jewish quarter, but after 1948 (and the creation of Israel) was taken over by mainly-Armenian descended Christians; before in the 1970-80s subject to large scale immigration from Sudan and Somalia, although many of these immigrants fled Iraq for their home countries up to and after the American invasion. The past-affluence of the district is reflected in its (now crumbling) art-deco buildings, but overall the once prosperous area is now more of a site for prostitution and other criminal activities.

One of these buildings is occupied by Elishva, mother of Daniel who was forced into fighting in the Iran/Iraq war by the local barber – an ex-Baathist – and who has not been heard of since. Elishva’s daughters have long fled to Australia, but she refuses to follow them, convinced (partly due to conversations she has with a painting of St George) that Daniel is alive and will one day return. One of her neighbours is Hadi – a local junk-dealer and well-known teller of tall stories.

Hadi would later narrate these details several times, because he loved details that gave his story credibility and made it more vivid. He would just be telling people about his hard day’s work, but they would listen as though it were the best fable Hadi the liar had ever told.

Hadi was a liar and everyone knew it. He would need witnesses to corroborate a claim of having fried eggs for breakfast, let alone a story about a naked corpse made up of the body parts of people killed in explosions.

He has (as this quote implies), seemingly driven by grief and anger after the car-bomb death of his business partner, secretly been (as part of his scavenging) taken to finding human body parts after explosions and assembling them into a complete corpse – with an undefined aim to give the corpse some form of burial. Deciding to abandon this plan he finds to his shock that the corpse - which he names Whatsitsname - has disappeared and then to his horror that it has come to life – from what we read animated by the otherwise disembodied soul of another car bombing incident and sheltered by Elishva who believes it is Daniel – and is carrying out a serious of murders in the area.

Initially Whatsitsname’s avengance is directed at those responsible for the deaths of those whose body parts make it up, at which point the respective body parts die. But over time its murderous spree grows, assisted by a group of adherents that follow Whatsitsname, and develops a terrible but unstoppable logic of its own

My list of people to seek revenge on grew longer as my old body parts fell off and my assistants added parts form my new victims, until one night I realised that under these circumstances I would face an open-ended list of targets that would never end.

Whatsitsname’s adherents grow in their fanaticism some prepared to sacrifice themselves to provide new body parts, and splitting into factions who then turn on each other in a series of battles, and Whasitsname itself can no longer distinguish between the innocents it is trying to avenge and the criminals who caused their death.

There are no innocents who are completely innocent or criminals who are completely criminal.

Its clear that Whatsitsnam – its multiple body parts, the civil wars between its followers, the apparently self-sustaining series of killings – is a metaphor for occupied Iraq, the terrible atrocities and civil war that followed the American invasion, and for the darker side of human nature it has uncovered.

Because I’m made up of body parts of people from diverse backgrounds – ethnicities, tribes, races and social classes – I represent the impossible mix that never was achieved in the past. I’m the first true Iraqi citixen, he (the Whatsitsname) thinks.

Fear of the Whatsitsname continued to spread. In Sadr City they spoke of him as a Wahhabi, in Adamiya as a Shiite extremist. The Iraqi government described him as an agent of foreign powers, while the spokesman for the us state department said he was an ingenious man whose aim was to undermine the American project in Iraq.

He told her it would be about the evil we all have inside us, how it resides deep within us, even when we want to put an end to it in the outside world, because we are all criminals to some extent and the darkness within us is the blackest variety known to man. He said we have all been helping to create the evil creature that is now killing us off.

All of the above is wrapped around with the story of an up and coming reporter feeling his way in occupied Iraqi society, and with the activities of a bizarre Department of the Iraqi civil administration which exceeds its brief by employing astrologers and fortune tellers to predict atrocities.

But perhaps more impressively and memorably for me, the novel is also woven through with the story of the Al-Bataween district and its inhabitants. I was particularly impressed with: the way that the book conveys the terrible reality of living in a City where terrible and seemingly random atrocities are both a day to day occurence and yet still profoundly shocking to those who witness them; the way that for the inhabitants one of the most terrifying sights is an American armoured car or government forces and threat of seemingly arbitrary detention, interrogation or worse; the tensions it shows between those who decide to stay in Baghdad and try to carry on life there, and those who flee elsewhere in Iraq or even abroad; its conveying of the multi-faith heritage of the area – in one series of I think importance scenes, a Quran verse that Hadi’s partner had glued to the wall is ripped off to reveal a hidden alcove containing a statue of Mary, which is later decapitated to reveal some Hebrew wall inscriptions.

Overall an excellent book. Sadaawi names two literary influences as Hemingway and Marquez – and these influences are clear in the combination of tight prose and magical realism in this novel, although the lack of affect in the prose was for me the weakest element of the novel and has caused me to round my 4.5* down.
Profile Image for Ushashi.
150 reviews76 followers
November 27, 2021
Frankenstein in Baghdad is hard to categorize. Is it horror or magical realism? Or is it a clever social satire? The only thing I can say for sure is that it's brilliant.

The novel is set in US-occupied Iraq, in the middle of political chaos where suicide bombings are almost as frequent as car crashes in any other country. As the summary says, Hadi, a local junk dealer put together a corpse from various parts of bombing victims to give a proper burial to these people which needs a whole body. But things take a strange turn, and the corpse comes to life much like the classic inspiration of the book's title and goes on a killing spree to avenge the people whose body parts it's made of. The 'Whatsitsname' (as the corpse is called by Hadi)links the different people in this story together: Elishva, an old Jewish woman who lost her son to the war and belives 'Whatsitsname' to be her lost son brought back to life, Mahmoud, the journalist investigating this story, the army general trying to capture him. As the story moves forward, we get to see the philosophy of Whatistsname, and in his story the boundary of faith blurs with madness. In a country ravaged with terror attacks it puts perspective into the meaning of actions and what define guilt and innocence. At the end of the story, I am not even certain if Whatsitsname actually existed or he is figment of imagination created to justify unexplained actions in a collapsing society, or to create some hope of vigilante justice among suffering innocents. 

The tone of the writing is darkly amusing, which makes a rather depressing situation more tolerable. The narrative keeps moving forward dn back, giving different perspectives on the same events. It's a very smart story and a fascinating storytelling.
Profile Image for ايمان.
237 reviews1,868 followers
March 12, 2014
صدرت الرواية عن منشورات دار الجمل، في حلة أنيقة كما عودتنا هذه الدار تقع الرواية في 353 صفحة من القطع المتوسطة، ومقسمة على 19 فصلاً , على خلاف الروايات العربية تجنب الكاتب أحمد سعداوي كتابة تقديم للرواية أو تقديم إهداء على غرار الروايات, يبدو من الإسم أنه اقتباس من الرواية العالمية لماري شيري و يكون بهذا سعداوي يؤسس الى جانب روائيين غربيين و عرب لشكل جديد من الكتابة الروائية التي تقوم على أعمال قائمة و الأمثلة كثيرة نأخذ منها مثالا كافكا على الشاطئ لهاروكي موريكامي و روايته 1984 و زوربا البرازيلي لجورج أمادو و زوربا العربي عبد الله مكسور و عمل عباس بيضون مرايا فرانكشتاين و غيرها من الأعمال و قد وضح الكاتب هذا الاقتباس بشكل جلي في أول صفحة باقتباسات تفسر المنظور الأساسي للرواية الاقتباس الأول يرجع للرواية المقتبس منها الاسم لميري شيلي فرانكشتاين "أني أطلب منك ألا تصفح عني.أستمع إلي,قم إذا استطعت و إذا شئت دمر ما صنعت يداك" و اقتباس من روايته على لسان الشسمه ( النسخة العراقية لفرانكشتاين)" أنتم يا من تسمعون هذه التسجيلات الآن , إن لم تكن لديكم الشجاعة لمساعدتي في مهمتي الجليلة,فحاولوا على الأقل ,أن لا تقفوا في طريقي", من خلال الاقتباسيين يظهر لنا جليا التقارب بين شخصية فرانكشتاين الأصلية في رواية ميري شيلي التي تأخذ اسم مخترعها فيكتور و تذهب بعيدا في البحث عن إنسانيتها من خلال تعلم القراءة و الكتابة و البحث عن زوجة بل يتجاوز الحدود و يقتل ليحدث الصراع بين فيكتور و المخلوق المسخ الذي خلقه ليكون نفسه سبب مآسيه,الشسمه و هنا فضل أحمد السعداوي اعتباره بدون اسم ليتميز عن فرانكشتاين الذي عرف باسم خالقه ربما من باب اعتبار الشسمة لم يكن صنيعة هادي العتاك لوحده بل صنيعة أكثر من فاعل بالعراق نتيجة أسباب عدة ولم يكون هادي العتاك الا اليد التي جمعت نتائج الغير,هادي العتاك الرجل البسيط الذي يهتم بجمع الأشياء الأثرية و القديمة ليصلحها و يبيعها من جديد حرصه هذا على العودة للماضي يؤجج في نفسه الحنين إلى عراق الأمس فيهتم بلم شمل أجزاء الشسمة من أشلاء المواطنين بمواقع التفجيرات و هو يقوم بهذا العمل بناءا على هاجس أو نداء خفي,و يروي قصة الخلق هذه كحكاية على المقاهي فيختلط الخيال بالحقيقة الفانتازيا بالواقع عالم غرائبي يقدمه للقارئ مجتمع مكون من شخصيات بسيطة تنتمي الى "قاع" المجتمع هكذا فضل الكاتب تقديم الحقيقة الغائبة في العراق فهذا المجتمع الذي يبدو هامشيا غير مؤثر في الأحداث الجارية بالعراق و عكس نظرتنا يبدو مؤثرا بصمته و باعتياده على ما يحصل الحائط الذي يتلقى وجع الإرهاب و المآسي المترتبة عنه الحائط الذي يتسلقه المتسللون لهذا المجتمع للاغتناء و التهافت حول ال��راسي ,هذا المجتمع المظلم المهمش سيكون البيئة الصالحة لينبت فيها الشسمة و يوجه منها عمله المنوط به وهو الانتقام ممن فعل بأطرافه ما فعل مهمته تبدو بداية سهلة لتزداد صعوبة مع تزايد الإنفجارات فتمتد مهمته زمنيا مما يجعله يواجه مشكلة تعفن أطرافه فيسعى الى اقتناء أطراف جديدة فيختلط البريء بالمذنب الجلاد بالضحية في جسده مما يتشتت فكره و رؤيته للأمور , يبدو الشسمة مكلفا بإعادة لم شتات العراق بكل أطيافه ففي جسده المسلم و المسيحي , الباكي على اندثار نورها و ألقها و المنتقم و بقسوة ممن شوه جمالها,الشسمه في الأخير ليس سوى بغداد ذاتها الناقمة على ما آل اليه وضع ابنائها من مختلف الطوائف, الشسمة هو الصرخة التي ترعب العراقيين و تصفع صمتهم و خنوعهم و هو انتقاد صادم لمن يتولى السلطة و لعقولهم القاصرة على تصريف الأمور بما يلاءم مصلحة العراق و الابتعاد عن شهوة أنفسهم في الربح و استغلال السلطة, لم يستطع أحد أن يكتشف هويته لأنه ببساطة هوية كل عراقي ساكن في ذات كل عراقي هو ذلك المسخ الذي يجول بذواتهم يحاول أن يكنس الظلمة من أنفسهم و يرتقي بهم ليفهموا اللعبة القذرة للسياسة انه ببساطة إنسان مشوه يبحث فقط عن راحة البال التي لن تأتي إلا بالقضاء عن البذرة الشريرة التي نبتت في بغداد و سهل لها الأمريكان سمادا كفيلا بأن يجعلها تتسلق في جسد بغداد حتى تخنقها, رؤية ضبايبة للعراق قدمها لنا أحمد سعداوي مغلفة برمزية تتطلب منا جهدا لفكها , و أخيرا أقول أنها تستحق الترشح لجائزة البوكر في انتظار قراءتي لباقي الروايات المرشحة لنفس الجائزة, فهي في نظري تصنف ضمن ذلك النوع من الروايات التي تسمى "Page turner" اي تلك الروايات التي تشدك لدرجة تقرأها بشكل متواصل و تقلب صفحاتها بسرعة و رغم أن الكثير من القراء عاتبوا الكاتب عن الحشو و الاطناب أحيانا إلا أني أجده كان ضروريا لشرح مواقف الفاعلين الأساسين في الرواية الكاتب منحهم فرصة تبرير مواقفهم و لم يكن له سبيل غير الاطناب المبرر لتوضيح ذلك.
Profile Image for Sohaib Ibn hossain.
62 reviews71 followers
January 2, 2018
رواية "فرانكشتاين في بغداد" رواية مشوقة جدا جدا تأخذك الى تفاصيل ودقائق كثيرة حقيقة تعلقت كثيرا بشخصيات الرواية هادي العتاك و الصحفي محمود سوادي و الشمسة الذي كونه هادي العتاك من اجزاء ضحايا الانفجارات الذي ينتقم ويثأر لكل جزء من جسده ....
فكرة الروايةتعتمد على (الشسمة)الذي لا اسم له. وهو عبارة عن جثة جمع أجزاءها وخاطها، عجوز اسمه هادي العتاك (بائع عاديات، يبيع أي شيء، وكل شيء، لأجل المال فقط، دون تفكير في تراث أو قيمة فنية)، وانتقلت روح أحد الضحايا لهذه الجثة، فصار الشسمة. وهذه الأجزاء المكونة، للشسمة، تطلب الثأر من قاتليها، وتسعي إليه. فالشسمة يجوث في أحياء بغداد، طلبا للثأر، وتحقيقا للعدالة المفقودة. هدفه المجرمين، الذين سفكوا دم الأبرياء. وكلما قتل مجرماً سقط جزء من جسده: الجزء الخاص بالضحية. فيقوم بتعويض الجزء الذي سقط منه، بجزء آخر، وهنا نصل لدائرة مفرغة، حيث لا يتوقف القتل. و يصل الشسمة لنقطة فاصلة: من المجرم؟ ومن الضحية؟ فليس هناك أبرياء أنقياء بشكل كامل، ولا مجرمين كاملين. و كل مجرم قتله كان ضحية بنسبة ما، ولربما كان منسوب الضحية فيه أعلى من المجرم. ولربما جازف، في بعض الأحيان، تحت وطأة هذا الاحساس، لاستلاف اعضاء من المجرم المقتول، بدعوى أنها الأجزاء الأكثر براءة لدي هذا المجرم..z
Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
328 reviews93 followers
October 10, 2022
A clever and somber reimagining of one of horror’s most profound classics, where grief, anger, and dreams take physical form. Mixed with subdued humor and heartrending descriptions of violence and war, we see the incredibly complex facets of vengeance, justice, religion, and fortune. As war and corruption rage on, it gets harder to draw the line between right and wrong, how it started and how it ends, what did normal ever look like? A thriller that is filled with important topics for discussion
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