This timely, elegant novel’s hero is an Iraqi secret police inspector who routinely uses enhanced interrogation techniques, which even he considers torture. Convinced that he is protecting society from anarchy, he is at peace with the world until ordered to interrogate a childhood friend, a journalist with possible links to violent subversives. Then he falls in love with his friend’s wife. The plot of this novel, which was written in Iraq in 1976 and published in Arabic in Germany in 1989, is further complicated by street protests in Baghdad following the Six-Day Arab–Israeli War of June 1967. Despite the grim subject matter of this novel, it is at heart a love story, lyrically narrated.
FADHIL AL-AZZAWI was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1940. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural journalism from the University of Leipzig and is the author of several novels and collections of poetry. He is the author of Cell Block Five (AUC Press pbk, 2013) and The Traveler and the Innkeeper (AUC Press, 2011). He has lived in Germany since 1977.
William M. Hutchins, professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Appalachian State University, is the translator of a number of works of Arabic fiction, including Fadhil al-Azzawi’s The Last of the Angels and Cell Block Five. He was awarded the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of A Land without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal.
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