Jawad is next in line in an Iraqi family of corpse washers — people who clean the bodies of the dead according to religious custom and ritual. As a young man, he rejects this profession in favor of art, entering the Baghdad Academy to try to sculpt stone into life, near the opposite of his father’s profession. As war rages and his chosen path becomes more difficult to pursue, the family business is booming and resistance becomes more and more difficult to justify.

At once both a tragedy of accumulated loss and an affirmation of Iraqi life and culture, Sinan Antoon’s novel utilizes simple, direct, fiercely poetic language to craft a unique and compelling tale of life in a place so associated with death due to endless conflict.

This discussion will be held in the Second Floor Meeting Room. An alternate, earlier session will be held on the same day at 2:30pm inside the Dweck Auditorium in Meeting Room #2--located in the basement level of the library.

Reserve a special Discussion Sets copy of the novel, or pick one up on display in the Language and Literature division. Click here for more information about the Discussion Sets collection.

Finished the book early, check out Marwan Hisham's Brothers of the Gun: a memoir of the Syrian war, or read ahead to the next installment in our discussion series George Saunders' Lincoln In the Bardo. Have a suggestion for our next discussion? Email me at ebobilin@bklynlibrary.org

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