Book Review: Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawai


Frankenstein In Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawai

frankenstein in baghdad

Published: January 23rd 2018 by Penguin Books


From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.


This novel explores the horror, chaos, and mass death that has visited the residents of Baghdad in Iraq since the US occupation. Raw, horrific truths delivered with the blackest of humour via the reinterpretation of the Gothic Frankenstein. 

In trying times, the only constant is the rising tides of the dead and missing. Friends and family often are left unable to access a bodies, sometimes the odd pieces of body parts but there is no guarantee. We follow a wide cast of characters; the elderly Elishva whom grieves for her son, Daniel who was lost in the war, Hadi, a junk dealer suffering the loss of his business partner. With no body, Hadi collects various parts that represent the Iraqi community and stitches together a composite corpse.  His creation is entered by a displaced soul and comes to life. The Whatsitsname wants revenge for the deaths of the people whose body parts he is composed of, and goes on a killing spree through Baghdad. So Frankenstein, or Whatsitsname as he is referred to, is born.

Elishva claims him as Daniel, her son, returning as promised by St George. The neighbourhood think with so many missing and dead, some are bound to return like Daniel. A number of parties lay claim to and support Whatsitsname, seeing him as representing all who have suffered. Whatsitsname keeps losing body parts as he achieves vengeance. At first, those parts are replaced by innocent victims although soon any parts will do, even those of the guilty.

Saadawi has written an intelligent satire on the sorrow and grief that is Iraq, and Baghdad. The inclusion of magicians, djinns, astrologers help create a supernatural world existing within the real-world of Baghdad. To some, Whatsitsname is an urban legend and a personification of fear.  A modern day retelling of Frankenstein that even Mary Shelley would approve of. 

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Edmonton Holiday Events 2018

EdmontonChristmasHoli-Date Nights

Edmonton is due for a long, cold winter and you’re going to love it. There are enough winter events and activities for Edmonton to have earned the title of being a Winter City. We embrace the cold and thrive instead of simply surviving. Winter is cuddle season and we have selected five unique date nights to get you in the mood. 


Krampus Edmonton

A group of Edmontonians have brought the traditions to Krampusnacht to the streets of Whyte Ave. In German tradition, Krampus is the antithesis of Santa Claus. Krampus – the Christmas Devil, punishes children for being naughty.  Krampusnacht is always celebrated on the traditional date of December 5th. The gang of Krampus enthusiasts work all year to craft the perfect costume — sourcing furs, bells and masks. The evening of  Saturday December 8th, 7pm with photos and activities in the park. The lauf will start promptly at 8pm, an army of Krampus’ will parade through Wilbert Mcintyre Park – there are tons of photos ops for parade goers. The Krampus group like to have fun and make appearances at other YEG winter hotspots like the Ice Castle.  Edmonton is one of only two groups in North America that celebrate this tradition.  Come out and have your annual family visit with Krampus and his minions.

How The Stripper Stole Christmas

How the stripper stole christmas

On December 15th the Edmonton Burlesque Festival will host the fourth instalment of this holiday favourite, guaranteed to heat up your holidays. More naughty than nice, Beau Creep will reclaim his role as Krampus. If you attended previous years, you know you’re in for a treat. EBF shows always deliver. An immense amount of work is put into every production — hours of costuming to seamless choreography-acts are consistently stunning. There is something for everyone in attendance — from the romantic storylines, kinky to the glittery. This merry one night stand will put you in the mood for your own act. 


devonian gardens luminiara

University of Alberta’s, Devonian Gardens annual Luminaria is an event that oozes romance, and feelings of warm nostalgia. Every year Luminaria sells out – YEG knows what’s good. Seeing thousands of candles along the paths of the Kurimoto Japanese Garden is a breathtaking display. The short drive from city limits is absolutely worth it. In addition to the gorgeous lights, count on bonfires, apple cider, snow sprites and the relaxing sounds of carollers renditions of holiday classics. Stunning snow sculptures line the paths of light. One of the most special features of this event, sure to draw out some tears – Memory Lane – a special path in the gardens with candles lit for those guests would like to honour.  This event runs the first weekend of December. 

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Poetry: Whisper

poetryI listened to gods quiet whisper
Find peace
And I did.

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Poetry: Two Places

You are forever in two places 
Never finding true happiness 

You are two selves

Where ever you are 
One half of you calls to the other 

This is the price
This is the

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Poetry: The Stars Dance

poetryThe Stars Dance

The same moon waxed and waned.

The same comets.

The same prophesies.

Continued in this world long after you had left.

Some nights.

I wonder.

Wherever great place you are.

Do you still find comfort in the moon as you once did?

Was that an earthly bond?

Broken when this stage of life ended?

The stages of the moon remain mystical to me.

Their beauty silences my grief.

Make me ponder the great beyond.

It is the night sky and I.

Everything feels right again.

The lights of the city became stars.

The world is a place where I belong again.

A world where anything is possible.

Where dreams can be a reality.

The stars dance as I dream.

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Poetry: Prayer To Pluto

poetryPrayer to Pluto
As this next stage enters
As my world exits its orbit
Take me on a path
Of forgiveness and release
Let me see
Death and resurrection
Chaos and control
Show me
To release negative energy
Recycle with positive
Teach me
Endings are part of regeneration and rebirth
Give me darkness to grieve
Give me light to live

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Poetry: All Souls Day

HalloweenStoriesAll Souls Day

A vigil of All Souls Day

Treats lay in heaps

Waiting for guests to take

A soul cake granted

In exchange

For promise of sweet prayers to heaven

For the masses of beloved dead


Share mercy on the departed souls

For a small price 

The indulgence of soul cake

A sweet exchange

Between the living and dead

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