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Frankenstein in Baghdad
Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel | Ahmed Saadawi
101 posts | 70 read | 4 reading | 122 to read
A prizewinning novel of literary horror from war-torn Iraqand the debut in English of Baghdads new literary star (The New York Times) From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadia scavenger and an oddball fixture at the local cafcollects 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 to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of horrendous-looking criminals who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes hes created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survivefirst from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. An extraordinary achievement, at once horrific and blackly humorous, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures the surreal reality of contemporary Baghdad. From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Sydneypaige
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An interesting concept, a metaphor of the impact of the US occupation of Iraq with the old tale of Frankenstein‘s monster. It‘s less horror in the classic sense of the genre, but it is heavy nonetheless. I found it a challenge to consume as an audio book and due to that found the characters hard to become entrenched in. However, the metaphor of the novel is engaging throughout.

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jenniferw88
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EvieBee So much goodness in this card. 13mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! Looks great!! 13mo
39 likes2 comments
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Soscha
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Oh yes, I need this whether I want it or not—I‘ve got some emergency TBRs! I‘m plotting for Friday through Monday, with try or die finishings of *The Riddle of the Sands*, *A Good Girl‘s Guide to Murder*, *Frankenstein in Baghdad* & heavy headway on *The Porpoise*. 😱

How about you?? @Andrew65

#Halloween #20in4 #Readathon

Andrew65 I‘m taking the five days still to finish False Witness and read Skin Gods, Survivor Guilt, Dead Mercy and On A Night Like this before the end of the month 😱 13mo
32 likes1 comment
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Liz_M
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Pickpick

The creature finds a purpose in exacting revenge for the people that make up his form, but he is falling apart faster than he can avenge the wrongs and new pieces are added… But this is only a part of the story. It is as much about the people affected by his existence who project their hopes and fears onto his actions. It is cobbled together from many stories, stitched with the fantastical, and somehow creating a whole that, just barely, coheres.

Librarybelle This is on my to read list! 1y
BarbaraBB This is such an original book! 1y
alisiakae This was my pick for Iraq too, and I really enjoyed it. 1y
25 likes4 comments
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ImperfectCJ
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this novel, but I suspect there's much more to it than I can grasp as someone very unfamiliar with Iraq beyond headlines and basic history. There's a sense of inevitability, chaos, violence, and this feeling of a "true" Baghdad buried under the surface---in some ways literally---an ancient city of peace, prosperity, and grandeur, and a modern one of little boys in soccer leagues.
#ReadingAsia2021 #Iraq @BarbaraBB @Librarybelle

BookwormM Cute reading buddy 2y
rubyslippersreads 😻😻😻 2y
Sleepswithbooks What an adorable circle of innocence 💛 2y
Librarybelle Great review! 2y
68 likes4 comments
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ImperfectCJ
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Listening to the tagged book with my feline friends.

Ruthiella Look how cuddly those two have become! 😻😻😻 2y
ImperfectCJ @Ruthiella They certainly seem to have turned a corner this week. It's possible it's been influenced by the pain meds the one is still getting. I hope the cuddliness lasts even after his last dose tomorrow. 2y
57 likes2 comments
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Cinfhen
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Pickpick

This was a smart political satire. Sometimes it‘s easy to dehumanize a country when the world has demonized its government, so this was a powerful tool in reminding us that it‘s citizens are all innocent victims caught in a political vacuum. Thanks for the recommendation @4thhouseontheleft 👇🏽

Librarybelle So many good, thoughtful reviews on this one. I have to see if the library has it! 2y
Cinfhen If it wasn‘t for your challenge @Librarybelle I would not have been as motivated to pick it up. Im so glad to be #ReadingAsia21 2y
See All 15 Comments
Librarybelle Yes - I love how the challenges broaden my reading and experience other cultures and situations! 2y
Butterfinger I liked this review. Yes, we do have to remember governments are the ones who are in control, not the innocents. 2y
Crazeedi @Cinfhen you and your beautiful flowers, I am in the middle of winter, so none for me and I'm jealous!! They are beautiful!! 2y
Kalalalatja Just found the audio, so on my tbr it goes 😄 2y
FelinesAndFelonies Totally unrelated but how do you tag someone without using the @ symbol? I see this done but cannot figure it out. 2y
TrishB Totally agree about governments. None of us are our governments. 2y
TrishB @FelinesAndFelonies when you are posting, use the tag people button and it posts it without @ 2y
Cinfhen Thanks @TrishB @Butterfinger it‘s often easier to vilify than to actually take the time to think about those that might be suffering 2y
Cinfhen Thanks @Crazeedi I DO LOVE flowers all year long 🧡🧡🧡 2y
Cinfhen When you post there is an option that says Tag People but it‘s only available in posting @FelinesAndFelonies 2y
Cinfhen It was a good audio @Kalalalatja but it DOES REQUIRE CONCENTRATION/ lots of characters to keep track of 🤪 2y
Kalalalatja Thanks for the heads up! 😅 it isn‘t on the top of my tbr, but I‘m thinking I‘ll get to it sometime in 2021 🤪 2y
78 likes3 stack adds15 comments
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Cinfhen
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Thanks for the recommendation @4thhouseontheleft I‘ve started the audio and I‘m hooked 🙌🏻 #ReadingAsia21 #Iraq #pop21 #MagicalRealism would work for other #Pop21 & #booked21 prompts too, but I‘ve already fulfilled them😁 Definitely check out the audio @Megabooks @Kalalalatja @KarenUK

Megabooks Thanks for the tag! I have like eight audiobooks from the library right now (no exaggeration!) so it‘ll have to wait. 2y
alisiakae Glad you‘re enjoying it too! My library didn‘t have the audiobook as an option, I‘m glad it sounds like it has a great narrator! 2y
Cinfhen So awesome that u have such a well curated library system @Megabooks ENJOY 😊 2y
See All 7 Comments
Cinfhen I actually used an Audible credit @4thhouseontheleft and I‘m NOT at all regretting the decision! I‘m LOVING the audio 2y
Librarybelle I may have to bump this one up my tbr list! 2y
Cinfhen It‘s very clever @Librarybelle 2y
Kalalalatja Thanks for the rec, I‘ll try and look for it 👍 2y
77 likes1 stack add7 comments
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alisiakae
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Pickpick

Saadawi has written a powerful novel on the trauma and grief that engulfed Iraq, esp Baghdad, following the 2003 American invasion. This is a witty and satirical tale, using the gothic horror Frankenstein as inspiration.

Amid the unending car bombs, al-Qaeda, sectarian violence, and US actions, we see how daily trauma impacts the lives of everyday citizens. The inclusion of astrologers, djinn etc gave it a magical realism feel.

Highly recommend!

Librarybelle Great review! 2y
Cinfhen I‘ve been meaning to read this... thanks for putting it back on my #ReadersRadar ♥️ 2y
See All 7 Comments
BarbaraBB Great review. I read it but you made much more out of it than I did 2y
alisiakae @BarbaraBB it was a tough one for me because I feel like there is the surface story (Frankenstein created out of body parts of bombing victims), and then this whole sub layer. The character Elishva really struck me. And then you have the characters that act like vultures in war-torn areas (like Faraj, and the magazine editor to an extent). 2y
KarenUK Awesome review 👍 2y
ChasingOm This one went on my TBR when it was published, then immediately got buried... 🤦🏻‍♀️ 2y
116 likes1 stack add7 comments
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alisiakae
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It‘s interesting to read this book - set in the years following the 2003 Iraq invasion - during a week when GWB is getting attention again for his friendship with Michelle Obama.

All that cuteness and nicety aside, it‘s hard for me to forget the royal screw up of his Iraq War decisions, and the war crimes that have gone unpunished.

I‘m really enjoying this genre-bending Frankenstein retelling so far. #readingasia2021 #Iraq #translation

Jari-chan This is such a special book! 2y
BarbaraBB Agree on this inhuman and unnecessary war. And on the book too 😀 2y
alisiakae @Jari-chan @barbarabb It‘s been on my TBR ever since it was on the Man Booker shortlist, glad that #readingasia2021 is finally spurring me to read it! 2y
Librarybelle I should read this. I‘m glad the challenge has spurred you to read it! 2y
67 likes4 comments
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ozma.of.oz
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Let‘s put a twist on those classics now. 📖

1. I‘ve read a couple for #PemberLittens this year. And I‘ve read at least one of A Christmas Carol for a book club.
2. I can‘t remember who I mentioned this to on here, but I‘m really looking forward to somebody writing The Great Gatsby in Space when it enters the public domain next year.
3. Done! The tagged book! 👆🏻

#sundayfunday Hope y‘all have a good day, and don‘t forget to tag me!

45 likes2 stack adds
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Morr_Books
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I just shutdown my work computer and am officially starting my staycation!!! The tagged book is one I'm hoping to finish reading this weekend during the #CYOReadathon as I am leading book club on Tuesday.
@Sace

AmyG Enjoy your time off! Happy Reading. 2y
Sace Have a marvelous staycation. The tagged book sounds really interesting. I am going to put it on the TBR. 2y
37 likes2 comments
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rachelsbrittain
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Some new books I'm excited to read / re-read

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BarbaraBB
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Mehso-so

Ordinary and not so ordinary people live together in the rubble-strewn streets of Baghdad in the beginning of the 21th century. Suicide killings are happening all the time, yet people live their lives. Then Frankenstein comes to live among them. Made of body parts from the dead. A tragic yet comical story that leaves me a bit sad and thinking about life in war torn Iraq.

#Booked2020 Book not so much #aboutgenocide #ATY2020 (theme of survival)

Cinfhen This has been on my TBR / I still want to read it ( I think??) 3y
BarbaraBB @Cinfhen I suppose it is a #borrownotbuy 😉 3y
britt_brooke Sounds weird. #stacked (edited) 3y
See All 6 Comments
Velvetfur That sounds so weird...and so cool 😁 3y
Kalalalatja After reading Frankissstein I‘m a little wary of Frankenstein retellings. But I‘m also kinda intrigued by your review 😅 #thestruggle 3y
BarbaraBB @Kalalalatja I think he is more of a tool to tell the story of everyday life in Baghdad. That is both a weak and a strong point of the book... weird, I know! 3y
74 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Marco66
Frankenstein in Baghdad | Ahmed Saadawi
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Pickpick

A black humored capture of the mood in Iraq in the early 2000. At times when bombs regularly go off in Baghdad, a ragman collects limbs and body parts from victims to stitch together a new being. The creature gets a soul and starts a life of its own, avenging each of the victims its body is composed of. The story is set in Bataween, a Baghdad neighborhood. Interesting representation of what Iraqis have been going through in recent times. Nice read

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Jari-chan
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Pickpick

The tale of Frankenstein and his monster has already been told and retold many, many times. But in my opinion nobody has it done so well like Ahmed Saadawi. Mainly, because it's not about the monster, but about the city, the politics and the brutality that create the monster. In this book you'll get a good view on how it is to live and die in Irak.

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CaroPi
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Pickpick

This is my first book of the year. And it was a great choice. I don't know why it took me so long to read it but I am happy I finally did it. Is a great way how he brings the concept of Frankenstein to the modern times. Even more to a war....

#bookly
#arabliterature

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TobeyTheScavengerMonk
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Pickpick

“I was not a murderer: I had merely plucked the fruit of death before it fell to the ground.”

Yes, there‘s an eloquent creature made of corpses killing people in the Bataween neighborhood of Baghdad, but, this novel suggests, is that really more horrible than life in a city where a walk to the store could end with you dead from an explosion or random gunfire?

A large cast of characters paints a brutal, thoughtful portrait of modern Iraq.

TobeyTheScavengerMonk Thanks for checking on me @vivastory I‘m still around, it‘s just that trying to keep my head above water in my surprise new teaching position is consuming a diabolical amount of time. I‘ve been looking forward to November aka Blade Runner Month all year, so I‘m going to try to post a bit more than none at all. 3y
Aimeesue I'm currently reading this one. So good, in a terrible, awful way. 3y
66 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Aimeesue
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Pointedly political, grotesquely surreal, and topped off by the blackest of humors - I'm enjoying the hell out of this one. 🎃

vivastory Sold! 3y
ju.ca.no Okay, you‘ve convinced me.😅 3y
andrew61 I read it last year when it was on the mbi shortlist and enjoyed it a lot. 3y
Aimeesue @ju.ca.no @vivastory Enjoy! I mean, as much as you CAN enjoy a story about a pieced-together monster killing people in a war zone. It's good, though! 3y
Aimeesue @andrew61 Excellent! I tend to get really ambitious when the MB and MBI long lists are announced, read furiously, then let some slip wayside until that MB sticker reminds me again. 😂 3y
33 likes4 stack adds5 comments
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alisiakae
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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

Need some #screamathon inspiration? My library is here to help!

If your library also has reading suggestions for October reads, I'd love to see them!

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sophierayton
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Mehso-so

I really struggled to get into this. I went back to the beginning 4 times because I didn't feel like I had a hold of the plot or characters and must have missed something. Eventually I decided to just plough on, and things didn't get much clearer. I recognise this is likely a failing on my part rather than the book, which is a translation and filled with symbolism. A reader who is more aware of the history of Baghdad might enjoy it more.

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Well-ReadNeck
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Pickpick

A modern re-invention Of Frankenstein set in war torn Baghdad. In many way more reminiscent of golem tales than Mary Shelley. I listened on audiobook which was 💯

#audiobook

93 likes1 stack add
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shaynarae
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Mehso-so

Such a good premise! The idea of a non-western retelling Frankenstein in modern Baghdad that wove together contemporary politics and technology with a supernatural twist was so cool, but I can‘t say it kept my attention. I think it was me, not the book or the narrator (Edoardo Ballerini is always a good one!). So don‘t let me discourage you from picking up this book. I‘d love to hear others‘ reviews!

Redwritinghood Read it awhile ago. Remember thinking it needed more scenes with the monster. 3y
20 likes1 comment
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collegecatlady
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Pickpick

Such a beautiful novel exploring war, justice, and politics through a community of characters and a retelling of Frankenstein. I absolutely loved this novel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Bkwurm I‘m intrigued! I love modern retellings of classics. Thanks for this—I‘m adding it to my library holds list ASAP. 🙏🏻 3y
80 likes4 stack adds1 comment
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collegecatlady
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Multitasking 👌🏻

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Smrloomis
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Kindle sale for 2.99 USD. #Arabicliterature #translatedliterature I loved this but just be aware - it‘s NOT a retelling of Shelley‘s Frankenstein. Not at all.

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Caksf
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Pickpick

Hmmmm.. I sort of liked this book. I loved the allegorical aspect of the plot, but thought that 1. The writing was extremely awkward in spots OR 2. The translation was atrocious. I‘m assuming the clever allegory is what earned this a man booker nom, otherwise, I don‘t get it. This is chock full of great discussion points- criminal vs innocent, violence vs peace, fair vs unfair... think “Exit West” with way more gray area. 3.5/5

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TracyReadsBooks
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Pickpick

Fascinating & powerful retelling of Frankenstein which has it all—“Monster” born of its creator‘s ambitions who cannot be controlled as it tries to find justice & to keep himself alive. The chaos & sheer challenge of living in an occupied city where religious & ethnic factions engage in a cycle of violence so it‘s hard to distinguish good/bad, right/wrong. Interesting, eccentric & intriguing characters populating modern Baghdad. Really good read.

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TracyReadsBooks
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My grab-and-go book today is a modern retelling of Frankenstein set in U.S. occupied Baghdad. Interesting (& familiar) premise—a man collects body parts and stitches them together creating a corpse which then goes missing. Shortly after, there is a series of murders across the city. Intense stuff. It‘s well written and the translator did a good job. I‘m a few chapters in and really enjoying it.

DGRachel I started this last year or the year before and got distracted by other books. I really do need to get back to it (and start over, of course). 🤦🏻‍♀️ 4y
20 likes1 stack add1 comment
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MDodge
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Pickpick

Well I think I read my last book of 2018 (although I suppose there‘s still time...). I didn‘t do a great job posting or reviewing this year, but I did do a decent job tracking! Pretty happy with my results overall... excuse the shaky pic of my spreadsheet :/. #2018reads

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TracyReadsBooks
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Great time out with @ElishaLovesBooks last night. BBQ and books to celebrate her birthday. Of course, I wasn‘t smart enough to get a picture of both of us but I did get one of her and my new books. (Her stack was even more impressive!!!) Love the sale shelves at Unabridged Books!

AmyG Happy Birthday!🎉🎂🎈 @ElishaLovesBooks 4y
ElishaLovesBooks @AmyG Thank you!!! 4y
ElishaLovesBooks @TracyReadsBooks I love this so much ♥️♥️♥️ 4y
18 likes3 comments
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thegreentealibrarian
Mehso-so

It was interesting but it didn't wow me.
Although it did remind me of Exit West because this was illustrating the contemporary situation in Baghdad with a supernatural twist.

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thegreentealibrarian
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BookishTrish
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Mehso-so

I found this book dark and disturbing. Sometimes funny other times boring. Something about the writing held me at a distance and I think I wanted a more visceral experience. I‘d love to know what others thought of it. Plenty to unpack. #screamsbymail

merelybookish I bailed on this one. 4y
JPeterson I had the same thoughts when reading. I wished I could have loved it, but some parts just dragged on and made me not care anymore. 🤷‍♀️ 4y
67 likes1 stack add2 comments
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bernadette
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Pickpick

I enjoyed large sections of it but I feel I missed a lot of what the author was trying to say. It‘s fascinating and sad, a little creepy and terrifying, a portrait of Baghdad and the chaos of daily car bombs and violence and the breakdown of daily life, community ties, and government. I wouldn‘t recommend it as a retelling of Shelley‘s novel but perhaps as a disturbing glimpse of what Baghdad is like. Need to think about this one more.

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BookishTrish
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#screamsbymail folk, I‘m just over halfway through this surreal work of literary fiction and there‘s horror in it, but it‘s definitely heavier on the literary surrealism. Do you still want me to pick it for round two or shall I go with Universal Harvester instead?

GatheringBooks am fine with anything. this sounds good to me as well. 🧚🏼‍♀️😍📚 4y
scripturient I‘m fine with both titles. :) 4y
danibolahood I'm good with both options as well 4y
Reggie Whichever you think is best. 4y
ephemeralwaltz I'm fine with both! 4y
59 likes5 comments
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bernadette
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Just started but fascinating and creepy so far.

2 likes1 stack add
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Michael_Gee
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Mehso-so

There is a lot I liked about this book: the gothic imagery in the beginning, the surreal everyday reality of living in a city that is being blown apart and put together continually, but ultimately I didn‘t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The sprawling cast of characters diminishes the intensity of the initial intrigue, and the heavy metaphors detract from the “white-knuckle horror” they advertise the book having.

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BookishTrish
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How we roll

CouronneDhiver Well done! 👍🏽 Love this 4y
Bklover ❤️❤️ 4y
Cinfhen Fabulous!!!!! 4y
See All 11 Comments
Rachbb3 👍🏼👍🏼 4y
TrishB Love it 💕 4y
merelybookish Cool! 4y
EricaReads Life goals ❤️ 4y
Reggie Lol, this is awesome. 4y
Simona 😍😍😍😍 4y
youneverarrived Love it! 4y
Bookzombie This is so awesome!!! 4y
93 likes11 comments
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BookishTrish
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Switching between two reads as I lounge in the sun #vacayallday

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JPeterson
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My night stand holds my over flowing collection of bookmarks, chapstick (Shakespeare theme, of course), the stack of books I‘m currently reading + my tablet (which is exclusively used for ebooks) and a few friends to keep watch. 🐙🦖

#24in48 #Hour18ReadingChallenge #NightstandChallenge

Clare-Dragonfly You must not have a cat! Chapstick on the nightstand sounds like a recipe for no longer having chapstick! 4y
JPeterson @Clare-Dragonfly Haha, I actually do! She just isn‘t allowed in the bedroom, unless supervised 😹 4y
91 likes2 comments
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RidgewayGirl
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Pickpick

A lonely old woman waiting for her son to return from a war that ended twenty years earlier, a secondhand furniture dealer upset at the death of a friend to a car bomb, a young journalist trying to find his footing in a complex and dangerous world, as well as politicians, businessmen and magicians populate this fascinating story of a patchwork corpse reanimated.

I liked this inventive and bleak tale set in Baghdad under American occupation a lot.

BarbaraBB Okay. Stacked. Sounds really intriguing. And I love books set in the Middle East. 4y
luvamystery65 I thought it was wonderfully written. 4y
24 likes2 comments
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JPeterson
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New book I picked up at one of my favorite bookstores last night. Super excited to finally get my hands in this! 😄

75 likes2 stack adds
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LeePeckover
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Only just started this but loving it so far. Doggo less impressed, prefers books about squirrels.

5 likes2 stack adds
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The.Intentional.Reader
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Modern day Frankenstein story set in the Middle East. Sounds interesting! About to drive in to this

14 likes1 stack add
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kathytrithardt
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Too many characters and an unsteady timeline. This just wasn't for me.

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BookwormM
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Pickpick

#MBI2018Shortlist #readingaroundtheworld #Iraq

Once I got used to the narrative style I found myself hooked by the story of the Whatsitsname and the residents of Baghdad who are impacted by him.

I loved the diverse characters showcasing how multicultural Baghdad really is.

The idea of a “monster” made of victims of terrorist and other attack‘s seeking justice was well done and I found the ending fitting.

4⭐️

33 likes1 stack add
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Briguy73
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Mehso-so

Not as gripping as I‘d hoped for.I am about halfway through and not impressed.I pray it gets better.