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WAR AND ME by Faleeha Hassan Kirkus Star


A Memoir

by Faleeha Hassan ; translated by William Hutchins

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-5420-3617-7
Publisher: Amazon Crossing

An Iraqi poet depicts her wrenching childhood and coming-of-age under her country’s series of debilitating wars.

Growing up in the small town of Najaf, Hassan was the eldest in a growing middle-class family—her father had to work two jobs as a clerk and a cook—that moved often to find better housing and educational opportunities for her and her siblings. School was her refuge, and despite the increasingly tumultuous political events in Iraq, she excelled. By 1980, however, everything changed with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran. “This year and the following ones tattooed all Iraqis with loss and death,” writes Hassan. Though Hussein and his advisers boasted that it would be a quick conquest, it became an eight-year slog that destroyed the country’s economy and caused the senseless deaths of countless Iraqis—all while Hussein ordered the construction of more than 100 lavish palaces. “Ordinary people,” writes the author, “experienced brutal lives as they endured the scourge of abject, relentless, crushing poverty, having been deserted by their government, which had inflicted these woes upon them.” In a vividly detailed narrative, the author is always candid, unafraid to express her feelings. From 1980, she writes, “I was obsessed by a feeling of revulsion—as if a large snake had swallowed me.” School disruptions, food scarcity, the sudden disappearance of friends and family, air sirens, explosions, and government surveillance—all marked her formative years. Fortunately, her father supported her education, and she became an accomplished teacher and then a published poet, the first woman in her town to achieve such a feat. She reluctantly gave in to her family’s wishes and married a man she did not know. The union was disastrous, and Hassan endured death threats by a virulently chauvinistic society that pursued her relentlessly into exile. Throughout, Hassan renders her harrowing experiences in an authentic, heartfelt manner, offering important testimony of personal and national courage.

A beautifully wrought memoir from a pioneering Iraqi author.