Description - Absent by Betool Khedairi
"Absent" is an affectionate, wry, funny portrait - sometimes darkly so - of the inhabitants of an apartment block in central Baghdad, juxtaposing the days of plenty that Iraq experienced in the 1970s and the tragic state of the country during the period of wars and sanctions. Most of the protagonists are female, highlighting the absence of men in their society as a result of the exceptional conditions it suffers. As sanctions and political unrest intensify, each character must look to their own resources. They barter, bee keep, tell fortunes, collect buttons, and talk. All the characters stumble through in a Dadaesque collage, recounted through an eclectic mix of realistic narrative and surreal hallucinations, while the infrastructure and consequently the social fabric of the community crumble. Transcending its underlying layer of betrayal and mistrust, this is a novel about people's quirks, their enduring emotions, and about survival.
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The American University in Cairo Press
Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
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Author Biography - Betool Khedairi
Betool Khedairi was born in Baghdad in 1965 to an Iraqi father and a Scottish mother. She received a B.A. in French literature from the University of Mustansiriya and then traveled between Iraq, Jordan, and the United Kingdom, working in the food industry while writing her first novel, A Sky So Close, published in Arabic in 1999 and now translated into English, Italian, French, and Dutch. She currently lives in Amman. Muhayman Jamil was born in Baghdad. He is currently an associate specialist in palliative medicine in London.