Farewell, Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad

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9780285637801: Farewell, Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad
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Farewell, Babylon is a story of roots and exile, of a teenager s thirst for life and experience, an engaging record of a youth s artistic development. It is a memoir of a lost world, Baghdad, the magical city in which Iraq's Kurds, Bedouins, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in a rough sort of harmony. The Iraqi Jewish community dates back 2500 years, to of Biblical Babylon, but by Kattan s childhood in the 1940 s anti-semitism was on the rise and Nazi-sympathisers were threatening Baghdad s Jewish community. Naim Kattan takes readers into the heart of Baghdad's then-teeming Jewish community, his Baghdad is a hot, quarrelsome city beset in equal parts by fear and desire. Its politics are frantic, its street life a mystery. In this beautifully written work, a young boy comes of age and describes his discovery of work, literature, patriotism, the joys of lazy Sundays swimming in the Tigris and of his greatest discovery: women and love. Kattan evokes the colonial, Muslim-dominated society of his childhood and leaves an unforgettable portrait of Baghdad s exoticism, and the political forces that shape it today.

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Kattan... brings a first-hand immediacy to his Baghdad memoir which marks it out as a minor masterpiece of the genre... Shot through with an artless ardour which lingers long in the reader s mind. --'Sunday Telegraph'

Iraq s most distinguished Jewish writer-in-exile... The plight of Jewry is recorded in Farewell, Babylon in spare, elegiac tones... A vital book. --'Sunday Times'

Naim Kattan... tells of the last years in Baghdad, when Jews awaited the possibility and the permits to leave Iraq... also gives a poignant account of a young man seeking insight into the mysteries and joys of life in an inhibitory society. --'The Independent'

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