Ahmed Saadawi Wins 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Posted on May 17, 2014

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Ahmed Saadawi is the winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. He won with his novel Frankenstein in Baghdad. The award carries a $50,000 prize as well as the guarantee of an English translation of his novel. Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet and screenwriter.

The novel is set in Baghdad in 2005. A man, named Hadi al-Attag, takes the body parts of those killed in explosions and sews them together to create a new body. The body comes to life after being entered by a displaced soul. Hadi calls the new being, "the-what's-its-name," but the authorities call it "Criminal X." The Frankenstein creature then begins a campaign to kill those who killed the people whose body parts it is made from. It is a clever and interesting sounding plot.

Saad A. Albazei issued a statement on behalf of the judging panel. He says, "We chose Frankenstein in Baghdad for several reasons. Firstly for the originality of its narrative structure, as represented in the 'what's-its-name' character, who embodies the violence currently experienced in Iraq, other Arab countries and the wider world. The story is expertly told on several levels and from multiple viewpoints. For these reasons and more, Frankenstein in Baghdad is a significant addition to contemporary Arabic fiction."

The New York Times has an interview with Saadawi who has lost friends to suicide bombings in the city.

Photo: IPAF

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