The Americans in My House: A new turn in the Iraqi novel

AFP , Thursday 26 May 2011

Nizar Abdul Sattar's The Americans in My House, published recently, sparked much attention in literary and cultural circles in Iraq

Al American fe baity, The Americans in My House, by Nizar Abdul Sattar, The Arab Institution for Studies and Publishing, 2011, pp 208.

Nizar Abdul Sattar's The Americans in My House, published recently, has been the talk of literary and cultural circles in Iraq. Some critics see the work as offering a new vision of the cause of friction between two civilisations.

The critic Fouad Al-Bazzaz said that Abdul Sattar has succeeded brilliantly in expressing the Iraqi cause as a struggle for the restoration of the path of civilisation, and fighting backwardness, spread by forces of terrorism and darkness.

He continued that the novel is free of self-hatred, while refusing to show any kind of "defeatism or distraction", but that it "reveals determination, self-love and faith".

The novel narrates events dating to after 2003, the year of the US invasion of Iraq, in the life of a journalist named Jalal, who works with an organisation or secret group named "Aledumnicos," and tries to keep a historical necklace that belongs to Queen Hamsho, Ashurbanipal's wife, the last king of the modern Assyrian Empire. 

The importance of the novel lies in part that it is the first work written from inside about the situation in Iraq after 2003. It also poses major themes until now unexplored. Most writings about events in Iraq have been framed within the context of certain ideologies, written according to imagination as opposed to reality. They were not well-received.

The storyteller and novelist Nizar Abdul Sattar was born in Mosul in 1966 published his first short story collection, The Rain and Horses' Dust in 1995 in Baghdad. It was followed by the novel Angel's Night in 1999, reprinted in 2008 in Amman. He also published a collection of short stories entitled The Smell of the Cinema in two editions.

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