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Heads Ripe for Pluckingby Mahmoud Al-wardani
Synopses & Reviews
An Arab tyrant once infamously declared, I see heads that are ripe for plucking. Mahmoud Al-Wardani's novel turns the statement on its head, using it as a point of departure to delineate a whole history of Arab tyranny and oppression. In Heads Ripe for Plucking, an impaled head seeks solace in narrating to itself stories of others who have sustained a similar fate. Beheadings, both literal and metaphorical-torture, murder, decapitation, brainwashing, losing one's head-are the subject of the six stories that unfold over the three sections of this novel. The narrative takes us from the most archetypal beheading in Arabo-Islamic history, that of al-Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, via the torture of communists in Nasser's detention camps, the meanderings of a Cairene teenager unwittingly caught in the bread riots of 1977, a crime passionnel in a family alienated by petrodollars, the remembering of a father killed in the 1991 Gulf War and recovery of his lost manuscript on the eve of the millennium, into a dystopic future where heads are periodically severed to undergo maintenance and reloading of programs. The novel garnered critical acclaim for its experimentation with language and form as much as for its excavation of alternative histories.
An avant-garde tale of beheadings both literal and metaphorical
About the Author
Mahmoud Al-Wardani, born in Cairo in 1950, is a writer and cultural journalist. He is the author of six novels and three collections of short stories.
Hala Halim teaches at New York University. Her translation of Mohamed El-Bisatie's Clamor of the Lake (AUC Press, 2004) won an Egyptian State Incentive Award.
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