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Zubaida's Window: A Novel of Iraqi Exile (Women Writing the Middle East)by Iqbal Al Qazwini
Synopses & Reviews
In the first novel in English by an Iraqi to focus on the 2003 invasion, Iqbal Al-Qazwini masterfully describes the tortured psyche of a woman who fled Iraq but still longs for her homeland.
Like millions around the world, Iraqi exile Zubaida watches the invasion on her television. As she sits in her apartment in Berlin, the unreal and constantly flickering images of US forces closing in on Baghdad are her only connection to the war a world away. But unlike most viewers, she can remember the city of her childhood, where memories of her grandmother’s love and of attending movies with her father mix with nightmarish images of hangings in Al-Tahrir Square. Struggling to deal with the horror on the television and the ghosts of her memory, Zubaida, in her grief, creates her own world, one in which she can almost go home.
Haunting and lyrical, Zubaida’s Window reveals the individual costs of war and the resilience of those who live through it.
Born in Iraq, Iqbal Al-Qazwini is a noted freelance journalist now living in Berlin. In 1993, she was elected to International PEN, the world association writers.
Azza El-Kholy is a professor of American literature and the acting deputy director of the Institute for Peace Studies at Alexandria University.
Amira Nowaira is a professor of English literature at Alexandria University.
Nadje Al-Ali is a senior lecturer in social anthropology and the MA director for Gender and Identity in the Middle East at the University of Exeter.
"In 1978, when in her early 20s, Iraqi journalist al-Qazwini was sent as a delegate to the Women's International Democratic Federation in East Berlin; as Saddam came to power, she was exiled and has remained in Germany ever since. Zubaida, the protagonist of her dirge-like novel, has similarly spent decades watching Baghdad from exile in Berlin, unable to return to Iraq and unable to grow accustomed to living in a city where she is alienated and alone. As the U.S. invades Iraq in March of 2003, the narrative moves uneasily between Zubaida's stagnant life in Germany and her vivid memories of her family in Iraq: her doting father and his factory; her proud grandmother's love for Iraq's fallen king; her lost younger brother, who disappeared in the front lines of the Iraq-Iran War. Zubaida mourns her loved ones in a stifled routine of drinking tea and watching the news, and her reclusive tendencies worsen as postinvasion Iraq deteriorates. Al-Qazwini's spare tone matches Zubaida's sense of hopelessness. While it never settles into a comfortable narrative rhythm, the book is a thought-provoking study about the other casualties of war — the displaced, who are robbed of a life all the same. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Noted Iraqi journalist's fictional narrative of an Iraqi exile watching her country destroyed on television.
About the Author
An Iraqi exile with a human rights background, Al-Qazwini has lived in Berlin since 1978. She is a noted freelance journalist for various Arab and German media; her articles have appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat, the most widely circulated Arabic daily, and Transnational Broadcasting Studies. In 1993, Al-Qazwini was elected to the International PEN World Association of Writers.
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