- Fizzy Thoughts: I'jaam


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sinan Antoon
97 pages

This short novel poses as a manuscript found in the Central Security Headquarters of Baghdad, Iraq. Written without dots, it is given to "a qualified personnel" to add the dots (I'jaam is the adding of dots to provide elucidation in Arabic script) and provide clarification as to what was written. The translator, so to speak, adds a few footnotes, to clarify meaning and probably to cover his ass. The manuscript was written by a political prisoner, a poet who records reflections of his days as a university student, as well as snapshots of his time in prison. It shows the fear and paranoia of daily life in Iraq during Sadaam Hussein's reign in the late 1980s. It is also a chilling portrait of the atrocities of prison.

Despite all that, the book still falls a bit short. At 97 pages, it is too brief. The author only gives a snapshot...the book easily could have been fleshed out, with more descriptions of Baghdad. Although, I guess if you're striving for accuracy, that might not have been on a prisoner's mind as he wrote. Still, it's missing a bit of something. And the end is driving me batty. If it truly was his last piece of paper, as he stated, then he must have been hallucinating, and he just imagined the last scene of freedom. Right? Anyone??

3 comment(s):

bkclubcare said...

You've inspired me to add this to my novella list! Plus, it sounds like you need to someone to chat about it with!

Melissa said...

It's not often you find a book that's too short, is it?

beastmomma said...

I found your review through Care and finally finished reading the book. I think that he was hallucinating at the end. I have linked to your review in my post. Here is the link to my review: http://beastmomma.squarespace.com/from-shelf-to-hand/2008/7/9/ijaam-an-iraqi-rhapsody.html

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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