The title of the book is IJaam written by Sinan Antoon who is an Iraqi- born poet, novelist, film maker and assistant professor at New York University. Ijaam explains Iraqi expatriate Antoon life in his country. The dots used clarify a words meaning where Ijaam means elucidating, which in simple language means clarifying. The document unfolds a series of government regulated life, where Furat the author of the manuscript who is a poet and also a literature student in Baghdad, has a limp that makes him unfit for service in the in the Army. This book is very interesting although in the entire sections of the book there are horrific stories which frightened me and there are some points where the book can draw me into love. I really love it. This book has some common themes such as fear and terror which may make the reader to try to understand what causes fear and terror in Iraq.
This book is about the story of a young man and a well educated prisoner who has a segmented though that someone can observe the disjointedness he feel which is usually spawned through fear and lack of freedom. This book was written during the period when Sadam was in power during which life was full of fear and lack of freedom. In this, there are themes like love, family and education (Kirkus, 2007). Despite all the suffering the boy was going through he feels the effects of Sadams dictatorship in many ways. The only guardian he has his grandmother who raised him after he was left an orphan due to his parents massacre, together with his girlfriend Areejask him to comply with the authorities but he gets tough times trying to study and live under such conditions. The government later arrests him for using newspapers with pictures of Sadam as toilet paper. The manuscript he wrote swings around his account of life in prison, hopeful hallucinations of meeting with his grandmother and his girlfriend Areej who he has seen for a while since he was imprisoned.
The interview is between Sinan Antoon and a journalist who works for the fire house studio where they discuss the issue of U.S occupation of Iraq, his novel the Ijaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody, and more of his poetry works. Amy Goodman asks what the meaning of Ijaam is, Antoon responds by saying that its a word that has double meanings, antithetical meanings that have to do with the Arab script because initially the Arab script was without dots. To avoid ambiguity in interpretation the people suggested that dots should be included in the document and hence dotting had to be borrowed from a foreign language, it hence came to have double meanings. Amy Goodman asks if the novel is about a prisoner under Saddam Hussein and San Antoon replies yes (Kirkus, 2007). Amy Goodman asks him to tell the storyabout that prisoner and he clearlydescribes how the Furat is captured and taken into prison by government security officers, but he doesnt know the reason for him being there in the 1st place. He gets tortured, and is given a paper by one of the guards and asked to write. He thinks its a way of torturing him further but then he decides to write in Arabic without dots since its only he who can understand it and no one can implicate him. Its his attempt to reconstruct his memory and remember about being outside the prison, and also in order to maintain his sanity inside the prison which is a major problem for most of the prisoners.
It was very shocking to see the actual destruction, not just of the war, but also to the social fabric of Iraq. The destruction of the community which made up Iraq was initiated by Saddam as he was assisted by the U.S government but the crucial factor is the sanctions issued for 13 years. Antoon said in the interview. University classes are usually interrupted with no good cause at all but for the students to attend official events. The people of Iraq are fighting against U.S military occupation of their country in many ways, but the face of media houses of course does not have time to cover that but instead they primarily set focus on the suicide bombing and the terrorist activities that take place in Iraq. There are in fact many incidents on a daily basis of Iraqi men and women fighting against U.S occupation due to cases of rape, torture and looting of property which is according to the U.N human rights commission is their right. This is old colonial style: When its too expensive, you let the natives butcher each other, let the natives govern each other. Responded, Antoon when asked to comment about the issue of U.S troops leaving Iraq (Kirkus, 2007). The Iraqis has no reason to put their trust in the very same nations that supported Saddam sanctions that destroyed their own country.
The author of this book is very categorical and he narrates the story of a young man in manner that reflects what truly happen during the power of Sadam. This book highlights key themes such as fear; family and even education which everybody would like to know how they affect the life of a young educated prisoner. The writer also uses simple words and a well structured sentence to make the reader easy to understand the content of the book. Every point was illustrated to give emphasis on the point which the author wants to put a cross.
Kirkus (2007). A manuscript found in Baghdads Directorate of General Security recalls life under Saddam Husseins regime. City Lights, ISBN: 978-0-87286-457-3
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