English-language BookGroup

Jokha Alharthi’s Celes­tial Bod­ies.

NOVEMBER 2021 Book­Group selec­tion: Jokha Alharthi’s Celes­tial Bodies


In the vil­lage of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sis­ters: Mayya, who mar­ries after a heart­break; Asma, who mar­ries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who choos­es to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emi­grat­ed to Cana­da. These three women and their fam­i­lies, their loss­es and loves, unspool beau­ti­ful­ly against a back­drop of a rapid­ly chang­ing Oman, a coun­try evolv­ing from a tra­di­tion­al, slave-own­ing soci­ety into its com­plex present. Through the sis­ters, we glimpse a soci­ety in all its degrees, from the very poor­est of the local slave fam­i­lies to those mak­ing mon­ey through the advent of new wealth.

Ahmed Sadaaw­i’s Franken­stein in Bagh­dad.

OCTOBER 2021 Book­Group selec­tion: Ahmed Sadaaw­i’s Franken­stein in Baghdad

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. [from Goodreads]

TMR’s Eng­lish-lan­guage Book­Group launched Oct. 15, 2020 and has read/discussed:


  • Ayad Akhtar’s nov­el Home­land Elegies
  • Malu Halasa’s nov­el Moth­er of All Pigs
  • Laila Lalami’s Con­di­tion­al Citizens
  • Has­san Blasim’s short nov­el God 99
  • Dima Alzayat’s Alli­ga­tor and Oth­er Stories
  • Sahar Mustafah’s nov­el The Beau­ty in Your Face
  • Tobie Nathan’s A Land Like You (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Susan Abul­hawa’s Against the Love­less World (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Hoda Barakat’s Voic­es of the Lost (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Sinan Antoon’s I’jaam
  • Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise

    To join the Book­Group (free, all wel­come), send your name to
    books@themarkaz.org today.