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Kept me guessing & left me puzzled, yet satisfied. 4.5 out of 5.
on 20 April 2018
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up "Frankenstein in Baghdad". I know so little about the setting and thought I might not connect with the tale due to that. I'm pleased to say I was wrong.
"Frankenstein in Baghdad" follows the lives of several Iraqi citizens and, in among them, the actions of a strange creature. The parallels between this story and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" are often subtle, splatters of paint on an unique canvas. This is not so much a modern telling as it is an original story with a short love letter weaved in.
At times, the book can come across disjointed. Mostly, this technique worked well for me. Other times it felt as though a vital aspect had been glossed over. Taken as a whole, "Frankenstein in Baghdad" makes up for these gaps.
Certain characters verge on unlikable but Saadawi avoids complete alienation, especially as he shows us the range of personalities involved. These characters are part of a different culture and a separate world to me, yet I felt I understood them.
Reality is skewed in the story and even by the end many secrets are left unanswered. This can be frustrating in some books. I'm my opinion, it works in "Frankenstein in Baghdad", probably because Saadawi knew when to shake the narrative, when to merely twitch the cloth, and when to appear solid.
Mostly, "Frankenstein in Baghdad" amused me. There were definite points when the humour have way to a brief stab of poignancy. As a satire, it made me think and I would be interested in reading more by this author.