Excerpts from IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq. That’s the book I edited, y’all.
Of course, I won’t be able to bear to listen to it (aaahhhhh my voice aaaahhhhhh), but maybe you will…
This review of IraqiGirl puts it well:
Some of Hadiya’s thoughts are universal among teenagers; other concerns stand in sharp contrast to those of her intended American audience. It’s precisely this contrast that will help an American audience empathize with her challenges.
Meanwhile, I may have mentioned that I am, through an odd set of circumstances, a member of my school’s student council. Last night (after about 20 students came to the usually staid and bureaucratic council meeting to speak in favor), the council voted 18 – 0 (with 6 abstentions) to pass my “legislation”:
The Associated Students of Madison supports its LGBT students by supporting the National Equality March on October 11 in Washington, DC, whose single demand is: Equal protection under the law in all 50 states for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Nice! Now time to get rolling on fundraising for the few hundred students who would like to get to DC if only we can get the money!!
Lenore is running a contest to win free books… and makeup. Not to mention an interesting interview on how the cover of THE STOLEN ONE (the book prompting the contest, which I have not read) came about.
What are y’all’s favorite covers? TWILIGHT is an all-time favorite of mine — I picked it up, before I’d heard any of the hype, because of the alluring apple image. Sometimes choosing books that way doesn’t work out; THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS had a cover that grabbed me (mostly for its fairy-tale imagery, which suits the book), but the story was a bit meh. It set up a kind of cool fairy tale world, but there weren’t enough surprises (the evil characters stayed evil and you knew who they were from the get-go, etc), which made it feel moralistic, in the sense that it reduced the story to its moral, which as I recall was something about not being selfish, or something. I suppose that’s a bit true to fairy tale conventions, but I like my fairy tales, these days, with a twist.
(Click the picture to see IraqiGirl’s cover in larger size.)
IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq. Haymarket (Consortium, dist.), $13 paper ISBN 978-1-931859-73-8
In 2004 in Mosul (the third largest city in Iraq), a 15-year-old girl started a blog detailing her life in the midst of the Iraq War. Her journal encompasses the day-to-day trauma the American invasion has caused her city, her family and friends. “Today is like every day in Iraq. No electricity, no fun, and no peace,” writes Hadiya (all Iraqi names in the book are pseudonyms). Her struggle against helplessness is agonizing, though her view modulates somewhat over time (her blog is still active, but the book covers her writings only through 2007). “I sense that my country is still beautiful in spite of everything that has happened to it,” she says during a hopeful moment. Poems and photographs accompany her thoughts on her academic struggles, Islam and growing up in a war zone; comments from her blog are interspersed, and Hadiya responds to others in several entries (“Another anonymous said, ‘You certainly don’t deserve this life.’ I want to ask you something—is this really a life?”). Hadiya’s authentically teenage voice, emotional struggles and concerns make her story all the more resonant. Ages 12–up. (July)
If you happen to be in the San Francisco area this week, please consider heading to Modern Times independent bookstore this Thursday, July 30, at 7 PM. IRAQIGIRL’s developer (i.e., the guy who discovered the IraqiGirl blog, had the idea to make it into a book, and assembled the initial manuscript), and former human shield in Baghdad, John Ross, will be talking about how the book came to be and reading some selections.
Small presses, big books
Essays by Arundhati Roy and Wallace Shawn, plus reflections on the contemporary world by Noam Chomsky and Breyten Breytenbach. Top picks from a big New York house, right? Wrong. These authors are all being published this fall by Chicago-based Haymarket Press, truly a small press that thinks big and my top find of the convention. Roy’s Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers (Sept.) argues that Hindu nationalism and economic reform are thwarting India’s democratic efforts, turning the country into a police state. Shawn’s Essays (Sept.), his first collection and ranging over his entire career, move from the act of playwriting to considerations of privilege, while Breytenbach’s Notes from the Middle World (Nov.) considers the artist’s role in a shrinking global environment. Chomsky’s Hopes and Prospects ponders political activism in the Western Hemisphere.
And now I am going to stop bragging. For this week, anyway! Real posts coming up.
Click for larger size. Or if you want to know why I’m posting this book’s cover, see here.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2004
It is impossible to imagine what the Iraqi feels right now
Do you know that Aya’s grandfather was killed last Thursday by one of the American soldiers’ bullets? When Aya is eight years old and asks me how her grandfather died, what will I answer her? What do you think I should answer her? When I tell her the American soldiers killed him, of course she will ask me why and how and did I do anything about that?
The answer to her question is this post and the others. I can answer her that I did do something about it. I did what I could in that time. I wrote in my blog about what is going on in Iraq.
– Hadiya, IRAQIGIRL: DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL IN IRAQ
* * * * *
IRAQIGIRL is going to print today.
At various points since Emily and I started this blog in January, I’ve mentioned cryptically that I was occupied with a project involving young adult lit that I would write about soon. But somehow I never did write about it.
Just under a year ago, Haymarket Books asked me first to weigh in on, and then eventually to edit, a submission they’d received. It was an Iraqi teenager’s blog, assembled into a manuscript by the journalist John Ross.
And today it’s off to the printer. It hasn’t quite sunk in.
The reason I never wrote about it, I think, is that I’ve been so close to it, so fixated on little details, that it was actually hard to step back and describe it. And now it’s being printed and it is finally, fully out of my hands.
More later. Including the beautiful cover (which, by the way, is not the one on Amazon; it’s better).