Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2018
This “hallucinatory and hilarious” novel offers a contemporary retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, said Alexander Larman in The Observer. In post-invasion Baghdad – a place where “human life is a trinket to be tossed away” – junk dealer Hadi creates a “patchwork human being” from body parts he finds on the streets. One night, this “Whatsisname” goes missing, and embarks on a murder spree that becomes emblematic of modern Iraq’s “never-ending cycle of violence”.
The monster is pursued by a squad of US operatives who use astrology to try to predict its crimes, said Ian Shine in the Financial Times. “This bumbling band of mystics is a source of much of the book’s pitch-black humour.” And yet Frankenstein in Baghdadisn’t “just a black comedy”: it’s a mix of thriller, horror and social commentary. Saadawi shows that fantasy novels can deal very effectively “with matters of urgent political and social import”, said Sarah Perry in The Guardian. “Strange, violent and wickedly funny”, Frankenstein in Baghdad is a “remarkable achievement”.