This post is also available in: العربية
In a groundbreaking achievement for the Arabic novel, the English translation of Iraqi author Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad made the UK’s Man Booker International’s 2018 longlist, along with 12 other novels published in English for writers from France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Argentina, South Korea and Taiwan.
Nominated in Jonathan Wright’s translation, the novel was originally published in Arabic in 2013. It won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, or the ‘Arabic Booker’.
Frankenstein in Baghdad tells the story of Hadi Al Attaq, a junk peddler who stalks the streets to collect body parts of victims of bombs and stitches them together to create corpses. Then the soul of one of bomb victims enters the corpse, creating an unnamed human creature. Al Attaq calls him ‘Shesma, meaning ‘What’s his name’ in local Iraqi dialect. The creature starts killing, first to avenge deaths of the bombing victims, and gradually it turns into a habit to acquire fresh body parts to replace its own decomposing flesh.
The Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, is awarded to a single book, which is translated into English and published in the UK. The longlist of13 books were selected from among 108 entries by the judging panel chaired by Poland writer Lisa Appignanesi.
The shortlist will be announced on April 12, and the winning novel will be revealed on May 22 during a gala dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.