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Iraqi realism

The blog Baghdad Burning which I recommended on March 1 has been reprinted as a book and nominated for one of Britain’s leading literary awards, the Samuel Johnson Award. The anonymous writer, Riverbend, described herself in her first post in September 2003 as ‘female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know’.

Riverbend writes very well – she writes from the heart. It is a realistic account of the dangerous, scary and miserable lives ordinary people in Iraq are living. The Guardian reprints a poignant section of the book here. But it is all very moving … searching for corpses in morques … cars with ‘simple narrow coffins in anticipation of a son or daughter’ … ‘people scared and watchful’ … resentment at crazy religious sectarianism and yes … resentment of the American war effort with affection for Americans. Reminds us that war isn’t an academic debate over rights and wrongs – its a nightmare for those with no political or religious axe to grind who just want to get on with their lives.

It is historic that a blog, printed as a book, is being nominated for a major literary prize.

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