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A hard life in Iraq.

The Corpse Washer - Sinan Antoon سنان أنطون

This book was originally written in Arabic, but then translated by the author, into English. According to members of our book group who speak both languages, the content was slightly adjusted to accommodate the different audience.



Most of my book group enjoyed this more than I did, but then, one of my pet hates is recollection of dreams in novels, and there is a lot of that here. My other quibble was that I found the narrative a bit stilted in places.


On the plus side, this book provides an insider's view into life in Iraq from the relative peace of the 1960s until current times. Jawad is attending university in the late 1980s, training to become an artist, against his father's wishes. He has considerable talent, but has to abandon his dreams when he needs to take over his father's business, washing the dead of the Sunni religion. As the Iraqi wars intensify and the bodies start building up he becomes more and more depressed by his situation.


This is not a cheerful novel, but it is an excellent insight into life in Iraq and is a easier to read than a lot of Arabic novels in translation.