This is a series of thirteen short stories mostly based in Iraq, though a few are based in Finland, where the author now lives. After an initial reading I was left with a sense of horror and shock at the level of violence portrayed. Fortunately, this was a book group read and it certainly helped to be able to discuss the narratives with others, which gave some context to the metaphors that I had missed or misunderstood.
It's an interesting mix of stories, some have an element of magical realism, others are obviously born of a violent background. There is some generosity shown to characters, but for me it was not enough to lift the overall gloom that I was left me with.
I was hoping to find some recognisable theme linking them all, but apart from the "trauma and the curious strategies human beings adopt to process it", as advertised in the bumf, there were no obvious links other than one pair of stories centred around a compass. I did like that the author popped up in the narrative a few times, however, an interesting twist.
The ratings given by other readers were quite varied, but on the whole it was the readers from Arabic backgrounds who gave the highest ratings and those of us from the west were significantly less generous.
An interesting read but not an author I'll be in a hurry to read again.