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Frankenstein in Baghdad

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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  8,831 ratings  ·  1,660 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Penguin Books (first published March 1st 2013)
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Nihal رواية جميلة ولم يستعر سوى اسم فراكشتاين. إنها لعبة روائية ذكية. جميلة جداً هذه الرواية
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Yaser Chelsea عمر تفكة رب الحلو يقصد بها شخص كبير في السن يرغب شخص ما بموته اي تقدم به العمر كثيرا و الجميع يموت من حوله و هو ما زال حيا و العمر يتقدم به فهو بهذا…more عمر تفكة رب الحلو يقصد بها شخص كبير في السن يرغب شخص ما بموته اي تقدم به العمر كثيرا و الجميع يموت من حوله و هو ما زال حيا و العمر يتقدم به فهو بهذا كان يقصد بهذه العبارة متذمراً راغبا بموت العجوز ... عبارة مسويلنة يعني بالفصحى عمل لنا عمل معين يعني كالمثال الاتي " عمل لنا احمد طعاما لذيذا " باللهجة العراقية تصير " مسويلنة احمد طعاما لذيذا "ء(less)

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  8,831 ratings  ·  1,660 reviews


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Paromjit
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 pictu ...more
Maxwell
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, translated, 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 Bo ...more
BlackOxford
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 enli
...more
Meike
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, iraq
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
...more
Manuel Antão
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Hemingwayesque Style: "Frankenstein in Baghdad" by Ahmed Saadawi




Finished Ahmed Saadawi's "Frankenstein in Baghdad." It’s worth contrasting with Shelley's Frankenstein. Shelley writes about Frankenstein's misuse of Science, i.e., galvanism, in creating an ultimately vengeful Creature, existing primarily in a Romantic world of wild nature, the background of which is the setting for the novel. Saadawi's Frankenstein in Baghdad, OTOH, is s
...more
Ina Cawl
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Hugh
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.
Neil
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ho ...more
Paul Fulcher
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 Jonath
...more
Lata
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, ...more
Lark Benobi
I loved everything about this novel except for the storytelling, which was a bit plodding and which frequently made me want to look away from the page and daydream. That's a shame because I think the work it takes to read this story probably is a high enough bar to prevent the novel from reaching the audience it deserves.

The story itself is wonderful. I feel very close to the characters. Here is a lovingly portrayed community in Baghdad at a time when suicide bombers are regularly blowing themse
...more
Gumble's Yard
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 no
...more
Wen
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a captivating book. Ahmed Saadawi glided seamlessly along the emotional spectrum, from hilarity to poignancy. It kept me engaged the entire time.
We were brought to a typical Baghdad neighborhood in Lane 7. It was 2005,in the aftermath of US invasion. Despite the constant threat of suicide bombing, the residents were doing their best to hold on to their normal lives: Abu Anmar desperately keeping his ramshackle hotel from going under, realtor Faraj taking advantage of neighbors’ dev
...more
Viv JM
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, ju
...more
Trudie
* 3.5 *

Now shortlisted for the 2018 International Man Booker but originally published in 2013 this book is now available in an English translation.

Frankenstein in Baghdad is riffing off Shelley's gothic classic Frankenstein , which admittedly I have not read but nevertheless I appreciate Saadawi came up with a brilliant and unusual idea to use this "monster" and set it down in a surrealist tale of life in Baghdad circa 2005.

I must say it is very refreshing to read a book set in Iraq that is no
...more
Trish
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Trish by: Simon, Paromjit
It won’t come as any surprise to anyone that this novel is about the war in Baghdad, the one which has gone on relentlessly since 2003. Saadawi won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for this work about the people trying to—literally—piece their lives together amidst endless bombings and heavy doses of despair.

The diversity of Iraqi culture is one highlight in this novel, the first people we see in any depth being on of the large numbers of Christians, not Shi’ite, Sunni, Yazidis, A
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short listed for international man booker

Shouldn't it rather be called Frankenstein's Monster? The book sure picks up the atmosphere of Iraq suffering from aftereffects of war and terrorism. The very idea of making a complete dead body out of parts of victims of bomb blasts which couldn't be identified with their owner is something that could occur easily to someone living in Baghdad and, for whom, bombs are a daily occurrence. In fact, the characters who seem to be prospering the most are those
...more
Roman Clodia
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an unexpected, surreal read as a man fashions a corpse out of the remaining body parts of victims caught up in explosions in Baghdad, and the 'Frankenstein' is then animated by a soul without a body - and is on the loose in the city.

The narrative itself feels like it's composed of many influences (like the many body parts that make up the creature): it has the feel of fables from One Thousand and One Nights, mixed with the tragic absurdity of Catch-22, and the eponymous Frankenstein.

Vi
...more
Eric Anderson
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the aftermath of America’s invasion of Iraq, “Frankenstein in Baghdad” portrays a city disintegrating under the strain of sectarian violence and dodgy leadership as the national military and American forces unevenly strive to establish order. Buildings are crumbling, families are moving out of the country and, after a junk dealer stitches together the body parts of bomb victims, this newly formed monster sets out on a killing rampage. I read this novel because it’s on the longlist for thi ...more
Doug
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5, rounded up. This novel was a surprise in many ways, and while I enjoyed reading it, I felt a distance between it and myself, and can't quite pinpoint why - although it could simply be a matter of my own lack of knowledge about the history of Iraq. Having read that Saadawi is a devotee of Hemingway, it could also be that his spare prose style didn't really leap off the page for me, or that the translation was a bit stilted. Some sections and characters were quite interesting and provided a f ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The streets of Baghdad are haunted by ‘Whatsitsname’, a malevolent monster who harangues the guilty and innocent alike; the former for their crimes and the latter to retain his purity which is reflected by the nature of the body parts from which he is composed, the irony being that in doing so he loses his morality, which is the very thing he was trying to retain. In many ways ‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’ acts as an allegory for the state of post-war Iraq, a country which was so deeply thrown into ...more
Edward Lorn
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Simply put, FRANKENSTEIN IN BAGHDAD does not deliver on its synopsis. We get none of the "scavenging" or "white-knuckle horror" promised on the back-cover copy. Instead, I experienced a disappointing story lacking emotion and literary flare. Easily one of my biggest letdowns of 2018.

If you've read the original version in Arabic, I'd love to discuss what might have been lost in translation, because I cannot imagine any reason why this version of the book would've been a finalist for the Man Booke
...more
Ana
There are no innocents who are completely innocent, and no criminals who are completely criminal… every criminal he had killed was also a victim.

Hats off to Jonathan Wright for his exquisite translation of Frankenstein in Baghdad , you cannot tell this was written in another language. Part fantasy, part sci-fi, part manifesto against war, this macabre yet poetic & oddly entertaining novel is an essential read! It has an almost cinematic feel to it, which is something I always enjoy in a b
...more
Jan
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well-executed tale of, well, Frankenstein in Baghdad. From the Man Booker International Prize shortlist, this book is a fascinating and at times witty meditation on grief and guilt.Definitely different!
Joseph
Baghdad, a city torn apart by conflict, where car bombs sow death on a numbingly regular basis. Baghdad, a city where the balance between different cultures and faiths, delicate at the best of times, is jeopardised by covert lobbies and political pressure groups. Baghdad, a city whose sons and daughters are sacrificed – lost or dead in wars, or emigrants in foreign countries, lured by the promise of peace.

These daily horrors are transformed by Ahmed Saadawi into a contemporary Gothic novel, in
...more
Krista
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
When Mahmoud did the layout for the magazine, he illustrated the article with a large photo of Robert De Niro from the film of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Mahmoud wasn't happy when he got a copy of the issue, especially when he saw that his headline had been changed.

“Frankenstein in Baghdad,” Saidi shouted, a big smile on his face. Mahmoud had been trying to be truthful and objective, but Saidi was all about hype.

Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction f
...more
Gemma
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a book I would usually pick up. I don't often read much adult fiction and if I do it's usually a mystery or a thriller but the premise sounding interesting and, I managed to pick it up for a reasonable price so I thought I'd give it a try. I was actually pleasantly surprised. This book plays with the Frankenstein legend and uses this to portray the lives of many people in war torn Baghdad in a way that is relatable in today's society. Here are my thoughts...

What I liked
•The use of the
...more
Jonathan Pool
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: international
The combining of the terrible realities of war torn Baghdad, and the fantasy of manufactured horror, Frankenstein, is masterful.
How do you write a fictional account of a theatre of war, while injecting some meaning, and some humour, at the same time?
Ahmed Saadawi pulls this off brilliantly.
I came to Frankenstein due to its listing for the Man International Booker Prize 2018. The presence of this book on the list, and the spread and availability of international literature is a wonderful thing.

A
...more
Rob Twinem
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
What drew me to this novel was the intriguing title. When I think of Frankenstein I am immediately drawn to the depiction of this "monster" in the writing of Mary Shelley. Was this grotesque creature someone who attracted our sympathy or loathing; the answer is probably both. Frankenstein in Baghdad gives a modern twist to the story taking place in a war ravaged community. Hadi is a scavenger who makes a living by collecting junk and resalable items from the US occupied streets of Bagdad. This r ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

I enjoyed this Arabic take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein story. Ahmed Saadawi transposes the creation of Frankenstein's monster from Arctic ice floes to the heat of Baghdad and scientist Victor is now junk dealer Hadi, a teller of fantastical tales who no one is quite sure whether to believe when he begins to talk of a strange stitched-together man.

Frankenstein In Baghdad is set in the ruins of the city outside of the glamorous American Gre
...more
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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.
“كل يوم نموت خوفًا من الموت نفسه.” 111 likes
“أنت تتشبه بهم الآن. تجرب أن تكون منهم, و من يرتدي تاجًا, و لوعلى سبيل التجربة, سيبحث لاحقًا عن مملكة.” 82 likes
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