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I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

For such a short novel, I’jaam by Sinon Antoon packs a powerful punch. From what I had about the book, I was expecting to feel moved. I did not expect that there would be rape and physical torture. Since I was reading the novel on the metro, I had to stop several times because I was crying.

“I awoke to find myself (t)here.”

This line appeared throughout the book. Usually, it broke up various sections. The concept of time is challenged. The narrator is in prison, but he has recollections of adventures with friends, time at the university, moments with his grandmother, and the only person who he addresses as you—the woman he loves.

*Spoiler alert*

As I was reading the last section, I felt so happy that he was out of prison. When I got to the last paragraph, I felt dread. As I read the last page, I was SO sad! I suppose current times suggest that a happy ending in the prison of a war torn country is unlikely. However, I was still hoping for some positive resolution.

*Spoiler over*

I thought this book was insightful and incredibly honest about life in an Iraqi prison during Saddam’s reign. It reminded me of Memoirs from a Women’s Prison in how the restriction of ideas and expression are one of the worst prisons of all.

Recommend to a friend? YES! As wars continue all over the world, I think it is good to broaden our perspectives of various cultures. One way to do this is through reading; maybe it will help to remind of us of how universal some things are—the desire to love, be with our families, and feel free to express ourselves.

Other reviews:

*If you have reviewed this book on your blog or another site, please leave a link in the comments and I will add it to this entry*

I read this book for the Orbis Terrarum challenge.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 11:30AM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] | Comments6 Comments

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Reader Comments (6)

I'm currently reading The Septembers of Shiraz. Have you read it? It's set in post-revolutionary Iran, and one of the characters is in prison...this book has all detail I was missing in I'jaam. In fact, it almost has too much detail. It's an excellent book, I'm just scared for the characters!
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersoftdrink
I have not read the Septembers of the Shiraz. It sounds intense and after I'jaam I would probably have a hard time with that book.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
It was a powerful book to me. You've captured it beautifully.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCare
I thought that it was powerful as well. I needed to take time to process it before getting to deep in the next book I am reading.
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma
July 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbethany
Thank you Bethany! I have added your review to my post. Please add me to yours :) I am glad that you liked the book too.
July 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeastmomma

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