Books > An Iraqi tragedy

19 July 2017 | by Kathy Watson

An Iraqi tragedy

Novel of the Week


We begin in what sounds like the setting of a fairy tale: “In a land without bananas …” writes Muhsin Al-Ramli. The once-upon-a-time quality of the phrase suggests that what follows will be a fable or a few wise words of folklore. What we get instead is an image straight from Grand Guignol. “In a land without bananas, the ­village awoke to nine banana crates, each containing the severed head of one of its own.”

Yet this is no theatre, nor fable. We are in Iraq, in the territory of real-life fiction, during the years Saddam invaded first Iran and then Kuwait.


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