Zubaida's Window

Iqbal al-Qazwini, Author, Azza El-Kholy, Translator, Amira Nowaira, Translator , trans. from the Arabic by Azza El Kholy and Amira Nowaira. Feminist Press $19.95 (137p) ISBN 978-1-55861-572-4

In 1978, when in her early 20s, Iraqi journalist al-Qazwini was sent as a delegate to the Women's International Democratic Federation in East Berlin; as Saddam came to power, she was exiled and has remained in Germany ever since. Zubaida, the protagonist of her dirge-like novel, has similarly spent decades watching Baghdad from exile in Berlin, unable to return to Iraq and unable to grow accustomed to living in a city where she is alienated and alone. As the U.S. invades Iraq in March of 2003, the narrative moves uneasily between Zubaida's stagnant life in Germany and her vivid memories of her family in Iraq: her doting father and his factory; her proud grandmother's love for Iraq's fallen king; her lost younger brother, who disappeared in the front lines of the Iraq-Iran War. Zubaida mourns her loved ones in a stifled routine of drinking tea and watching the news, and her reclusive tendencies worsen as postinvasion Iraq deteriorates. Al-Qazwini's spare tone matches Zubaida's sense of hopelessness. While it never settles into a comfortable narrative rhythm, the book is a thought-provoking study about the other casualties of war—the displaced, who are robbed of a life all the same. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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