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Here is the exotic world of one of the East's ancient cities, where Naim Kattan was born into the heart of its then teeming Jewish community. In this evocative memoir, a young boy comes of age, discovering work, literature, patriotism, racism - and women and love. Farewell, Babylon is a story of roots and anguished exile, of thirst for life and life's experiences. Above all it is a memoir of a lost world, a magical city in which Iraq's Kurds, Bedouins, Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together in a rough sort of harmony.
"In all respects, a most moving and haunting work." (Montreal Star)
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- Alattar family
This is a great account of Baghdad in 40s. But also of modern Iraq as well. What made it so great is not only the description of that time many Iraqis growing in that age can associate with , but its historical account of Iraqi Jews, and their existential struggle in the modern state of Iraq. This is in parallel with author inner existential alienation, reflecting the mindset of any educated middle class conscious of Western modernity in their teens at that time(and generations to come after). It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this is very much needed in understanding socio-polotical evolution of events in recent Iraq with such random events that started with The Farhood and kept widening to involve all other circles , and almost all other ethnic groups, to eventually engulf all of Iraq, depleting it of its middle class intelligentsia , starting the assault on Its Jews back then, with justification to include almost all of Iraq that ended up with its complete ruin. I can certainly connect the dots from Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani through 1958, then 1963 , the ascend of Saddam to power and his disasters to what followed up to this point.
MY HOPE IS THAT AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION WOULD BE AVAILABLE OF THE AUTHOR SECOND AND THIRD PART OF HIS BIOGRAPHY.
- Yasmine Al-Hamdani
A revealing perspective
A very expressive account of a young Jewish Iraqi boy growing up in Baghdad during the time when there were political turbulences that were disturbing the lives of ordinary Iraqis and their communities. However, that serves as more of a backdrop for most of the story - much of it is focused on the thoughts and emotions of a boy growing up in a less privileged part of society and how he perceives the traditions and customs of the communities he is surrounded by.
The narration was a bit jarring at times. As an Arabic (Iraqi) speaker, it is awkward to listen to Iraqi words being mispronounced. However, as I have little knowledge of the subtleties of the Jewish Iraqi dialect, it could be that they are pronounced as intended.