Si je t'oublie, Bagdad

If I forget you, Baghdad
Si je t'oublie, Bagdad

Inaam Kachachi
Original text in Arabic
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As an adolescent, Zeina left Iraq for the United States with her family, her father having been accused of conspiracy against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Well-integrated in her country of adoption, but raised in the love of her native land, at the age of thirty she decides to return there as an interpreter with the American army. Convinced of the nobility of her mission, yet slightly ashamed of returning in this uniform, she delays in informing her grandmother, the widow of colonel in the Iraqi army. Given the job of translating and sensitizing the American military to Arab culture, the young woman realizes that her role goes beyond this: with reluctance, she is present at interrogations, or bursts into suspect houses during the night… Uneasiness sets in. And disapproval as well, that of her grandmother, of close ones, and, worse still, her own…
Through the beautiful character of this woman torn between two identities, the author paints the picture of the life of expatriate Iraqis in America and of their intensely close relationship with the mother country. The resentment of Iraqis on the inside toward the American occupier is echoed by the pain of families in mourning in the United States.
Written in a pacy, punchy language like a soldier’s logbook, this novel renders with great subtlety the wounds that war inflicts on each individual, whether in uniform or not, and thus is universal in effect.

Inaam Kachachi was born in Baghdad. She studied journalism at university and worked as a journalist for the press and radio of her country until she moved to Paris in 1979 where she obtained a doctorate in Islamic civilization from the Sorbonne.
A chronicler, editor and reporter for certain Arab magazines in Paris over the last thirty years, she has travelled widely covering cultural events throughout the world. She was the editorial director of the Arab edition of the French magazine Marie-Claire. She currently writes editorials for the review Émirats Kol Alusra and is a correspondent for the daily Asharq Alawsat based in London. She has written scripts and produced three film documentaries about the women of her country, including one about Naziha Al Dulaimi, a female Iraqi doctor who became the first woman minister in the Arab world in 1959.Other books by this author: Lorna, ses années avec Jawad Salim (biography of the English painter Lorna Hailes), 1997; Paroles d’Irakiennes (Le Serpent à plumes), 2003.

  • Published on septembre 3rd, 2009
  • 224 pages


“Here’s an extraordinary burst of writing to jolt us out of indifference. In one of the most beautiful novels of this new season, Inaam Kachachi portrays the dual tragedy of her native land: the failure of America and the humiliation of Iraq.” Marianne
“We let ourselves be won over by this novel which portrays with precision and emotion the anguish of a country and of a woman forever caught between two shores.” Le Monde