SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2018
WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC FICTION
'Extraordinary... A devastating but essential read.' Kevin Powers, bestselling author and National Book Award finalist for The Yellow Birds
'Gripping, darkly humorous...profound.' Phil Klay, bestselling author and National Book Award winner for Redeployment
From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the scavenger Hadi 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 give them a 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 realises he has created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive – first from the guilty, and then from anyone who crosses its path.
An extraordinary achievement, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humour the surreal reality of a city at war.
‘Saadawi’s strange, violent and wickedly funny book borrows heavily from the science fiction canon, and pays back the debt with interest: it is a remarkable achievement, and one that, regrettably, is unlikely ever to lose its urgent relevancy.’ (Guardian)
‘[Saadawi is] Baghdad’s new literary star.’ (New York Times)
‘Ahmed Saadawi has wrenched a fable that puts a cherished Romantic myth to urgent new use… In their bicentenary year, Mary Shelley’s scientist and his creature will take plenty of contemporary spins. Surely, no updated journey will be more necessary than Saadawi’s… A nightmarish, but horridly hilarious, tale… Sinister, satirical, ferociously comic but oddly moving.’ (Spectator)
‘Frankenstein in Baghdad is complex but very readable and darkly humorous; it has well-observed characters, whose back stories reflect the wider context. The monster is a metaphor both for the physical horrors of Iraq, and for the development of groups within that chaos. The translation by Jonathan Wright is first-rate.’ (Times Literary Supplement)
‘Helped by Jonathan Wright’s elegant and witty translation, which reaches for and attains bracing pathos, Saadawi’s novel mixes a range of characters and their voices to surprising, even jolting effect...a remarkable book.’ (Observer)
‘A darkly delightful novel… Detective story and satire as well as gothic horror, Frankenstein in Baghdad provides a tragicomic take on a society afflicted by fear, and a parable concerning responsibility and justice.’ (New Statesman)
‘Frankenstein in Baghdad is more than just a black comedy. It’s as much of a crossbreed as its ghoulish hero – part thriller, part horror, part social commentary... Saadawi, slickly translated by Jonathan Wright, captures the atmosphere of war-torn Baghdad with the swiftest of penstrokes, and picks out details that make the reader feel, and even taste, the aftermath of the explosions that pepper the book.’ (Financial Times)
‘Saadawi’s novel...is more than an extended metaphor for the interminable carnage in Iraq and the precarious nature of its body politic. It also intimately depicts the lives of those affected by the conflict [and] offer[s] a glimpse into the day-to-day experiences of a society fractured by bloodshed.’ (Economist)
‘In the 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, her monster has turned up in countless variations – but few of them have been as wild or politically pointed as the monster in Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad.’ (New York Times)
‘An extraordinary piece of work. With uncompromising focus, Ahmed Saadawi takes you right to the wounded heart of war’s absurd and tragic wreckage. A devastating but essential read.’ (Kevin Powers, bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds)