“Frankenstein in Baghdad” by Ahmed Saadawi

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The magical realism of the Middle East is intertwined in this profound reflection between guilt and innocence. A novel capable of bringing to light the reflections of a sick Baghdad, suffering but still able to amaze itself and the whole world.

Frankenstein in Baghdad

The novel is set in Baghdad during the American occupation in 2005-2006. The city is dotted with kamikaze explosions, traversed by sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis and other groups, without a real state and civil order, immersed in economic precariousness. A mysterious character collects and puts together the pieces of corpses produced by the explosions and creates a Frankenstein, a monster who begins to live and avenge the victims. Little by little this monster, which the police and newspapers investigate in vain, terrifies the people of Baghdad, even hitting innocent victims.

Guilty or innocent

Saadawi’s work takes one of the most classic figures in literature to introduce us to one of humanity’s greatest dilemmas: is there anyone who is “really innocent?” In fact, Saadawi’s Frankenstein is made up of pieces of men whose deaths are avenged.

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi

If initially the task of this “executioner” proves quite simple, in the long run it will become increasingly difficult to judge guilty and innocent. In fact, with the passage of time the monster will realize that the pieces that compose it tend to decompose, forcing it to kill innocent people to survive and avenge others. The transformation of the monster from being “good” to neutral is described in an incredible way referring to the awareness assumed by the creature of Shelley: an angel who has discovered that he has fallen.

Iraq today

A creature that this time, however, highlights the problems of a state that for decades has not found peace and political stability, bitten internally by feuds that do not want to dissolve. The author’s jab against the US is also strong, too interested in leaving a situation favorable to them, whether it is with chaos or not.

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Baghdad today

Interesting is the variety of cultures and characters present throughout the novel that show an Iraq that is still strong in its diversity and the remains of a civilization that for centuries has been able to welcome, showing itself as a nest for the rarest populations.

Frankestein in Baghdad is an incredible novel that knows how to make us reflect in a simple and natural way about fundamental topics in the history of the world. All framed in an Iraq as lively and varied as ever. A book that for us is an absolute must to read.

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