Iraqi/Czech-born author Michelle Nouri has a fiery voice that speaks of adolescent oblivion, the constraints of Arabic culture, Czechoslovakian communism and her personal struggle at the junction of East and West. The Girl From Baghdad is a personal confession of a tortured past. It is a novel that recounts a blissful childhood in Baghdad, where Nouri’s biggest dilemma was what to pack for the next family holiday and whether flirtations with Saddam Hussein’s son Uday meant that she was his girlfriend. Yet her life later transforms into a heart-wrenching tale of abandonment, isolation and poverty in a bleak Prague winter.
As Nouri delivers first hand insights into the Iraq-Iran conflict, the novel is as much a compelling chronicle of private hardship as it is an informative inquest into the East’s recent history. The author dislocates static boundaries between socio-political chronicle and the memoir narrative to show how, for her, the two domains were inseparable.
The Girl From Baghdad is a solid first novel. From striking imagery of war-torn Iraq to scenes of bloody domestic violence, Nouri’s emotional aptitude leaves the reader feeling truly touched by her story.