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I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody Paperback – June 1, 2007
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" The prisoner intersperses terse reports of his ordeal among memories of a literary rebellion, friendship and love. . . . chilling short novel . . ." -- Booklist, June 1, 2007
"He evokes a Baghdad heavy with Orwellian overtones . . . often he strikes the right chord, to haunting effect." -- The Village Voice
"In less than a hundred pages, Antoon provides a moving portrait of life in Saddam's Iraq. " -- Poets and Writers Magazine
"This book arrives at a crucial moment in our history as the decision is being made whether to expand or terminate the U.S.-led war in Iraq." -- Library Journal
"a searing look at life under Saddam Hussein's regime, related in the form of diary entries written by a prisoner" -- Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
I'jaam is a novel, but Sinan Antoon insightfully writes this masterpiece as a manuscript that was found in the an inventory of the general security headquarters located in Central Baghdad. The writings are of the life of a young man and an educated prisoner all in one. His thoughts are so segmented that you see the disjointedness he must feel, which is in every way spawned through fear, heartless acts, and a lack of freedom. He goes back and forth between what happened, what is happening and what is in every bit too horrible to ever imagine happening to any human being.The novel is set in a time where The Leader (Saddam) is in power, a time when life is full of fear and complete inconsistency. Even though suffering and fear are the themes throughout, there is also love, family, education and life to show that all dreams are not lost, even if they are extremely hidden, and held close to oneself. The will to live life is the hardest to snuff, when there is even an ounce of hope and Antoon shows hope in this novel again and again, in a real way that is never false and always just right. Feel the outcry of humanity and read this novel, I'jaam by Sinan Antoon. I am changed, and my outlook is forever different because of this one all too short novel.Read more ›
The central character, an aspiring young poet, finds that his efforts to write anything remotely critical of the regime land him in prison, where he is subject to physical and psychological abuse, humiliated, and dehumanized. The book is a manuscript he has left behind, recording his memories, dreams, hallucinations, and experiences as a prisoner. Among his memories is a budding love affair with a young woman. There are a few moments of pleasure seized from that relationship, but his story is that of countless young people whose hopes have been crushed by totalitarian regimes. The "rhapsody" of the title is ironic. The intense feelings portrayed are of anger, frustration, and despair.
What is truly unique about the novel are the implications of the title, and how the novella has been translated (it helps to be familiar with Arabic, and it must be a real joy to be fluent English/ Arabic to fully understand the puns, and the quality of the translation). One aspect of the Arabic alphabet is the use of "dots" above and below the lines and curves, and it is these dots that determine a difference in the letters. This mechanism is used in approximately half the letters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a product of the Iraqi diaspora, this has easily become one of my favorite books, and sinaan is now my favorite author. Read morePublished 9 months ago by realfakescientist
Highly recommend this book as it's a solid piece of work (and only after did I find out that it was one of many in the Arab world's prison lit genre). Read morePublished on August 25, 2013 by BronxRev