International Prize for Arabic Fiction Shortlist Countdown: Reading ‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’

ArabLit and 7iber continue coverage of this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) longlist – in English and Arabic — with Ahmed Saadawi and Frankenstein in Baghdad, which wonders what happens when a killer won’t die: 

saadawiAhmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet and screenwriter. He was born in Baghdad in 1973 and continues to live and work as a filmmaker. He is the author of a volume of poetry, Anniversary of Bad Songs (2000) and three novels, The Beautiful Country (2004), Indeed He Dreams or Plays or Dies (2008) and Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013). In 2010, he was selected for the Beirut39, a list of the “39 best Arab authors under 40.” In 2012, he was selected for the IPAF masterclass, and there worked on Frankenstein in Baghdad.

Frankenstein in Baghdad was also chosen as one of the best novels of 2013 on by ArabLit contributor Ines Abassi.

In Frankenstein in Baghdad, protagonist Hadi al-Attag lives in the populous al-Bataween district of Baghdad. In the spring of 2005, he takes the body parts of those killed in explosions and sews them together to create a new body. When a displaced soul enters the body, a new being comes to life. Hadi call it “what’s-its-name,” the authorities call it “Criminal X,” and others simply call it “Frankenstein.”

Al-Mustafa Najjar reviews the book: A Golden Piece of Shit: On Morality and War

Interview with IPAF organizers: An Illusory Release, a Calm Before a Storm’

Read an excerpt of Frankenstein in Baghdad: from the Beirut39 collectiontrans. Anne Shaker.

Also, Saadawi in the NYT in March 2013: A Decade of Despair

Previously featured novels:

Amir Tag Elsir’s ‘366

Ashraf al-Khamaisi’s God’s Land of Exile

Ibrahim Abdelmeguid’s ‘Clouds Over Alexandria’

Inaam Kachachi’s ‘Tashari’

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