I made the mistake of trying to read this in the run-up to my university finals. Our lecturer of Middle Eastern politics had recommended it but, already stressed and confused, it wasn’t quite the easy complement to revision that I’d hoped. It was kaleidoscopic, a collection of stories within stories, riddled with death and trauma and the surreal. There were people falling in holes occupied by djinni, wolves roaming Helsinki apartment buildings, and so many characters – including a certain “Hassan Blasim” – that one story was even called, “Why Don’t You Write a Novel, Instead of Talking About All these Characters”. This was a bit overwhelming at the time, and maybe that was the idea. When I returned to it in a period of lower stress, though, I thought it was phenomenal. An affecting and darkly humorous window onto war-torn Iraq and the lives of its refugees, which felt all the more real for its absurdity.
Set, for the most part, in various places across Iraq, with some stories following the country’s refugees into the likes of Hungary and Finland.
Recommended by @lewisalloyd.
Buy the book here.