Absent

Absent

A Novel

eBook - 2007
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Dalal is a young woman living in a crowded Baghdad apartment with the childless aunt and uncle who raised her. In the same building, Umm Mazin, a fortune-teller, offers her customers cures for their physical and romantic ailments, Saad the hairdresser attends to a dwindling number of female customers, and Ilham, a nurse, escapes the stark realities of her hospital job in dreams of her long-lost French mother. Despite the damaging effects of bombings and international sanctions on their world, all the residents try to maintain normal lives.

Hoping to bring in much-needed cash by selling honey, Dalal's uncle becomes a beekeeper, enlisting Dalal's help in the care of these temperamental creatures. Meanwhile, Dalal falls in love for the first time-against a background of surprise arrests, personal betrayals, and a crumbling social fabric that turns neighbors into informants.

Tightly crafted and full of vivid, unforgettable characters, Absent is a haunting portrait of life under restrictions, the fragile emotional ties among family and friends, and the resilience of the human spirit.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.
ISBN: 9781588366368
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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GLNovak
Apr 14, 2017

This is an interesting book, written by an Iraqi and translated in to English. We meet Dalal, a young woman who lives with her aunt and uncle in a crowded apartment building in Baghdad. This is the Saddam Hussein era when the country was suffering international trade sanctions and the American shock and awe bombings. Her uncle decides to raise bees for honey on an abandoned tennis court, and builds up a good little business. He loves his bees and teaches her about their society and habits and how best to keep them happy, healthy and producing. The bees and their life mirror the tennants' lives and the effect the war and the secret police are having on them. Things are okay until something nasty and terrible is introduced into their lives that makes for a terrible and possibly unfixable outcome. The whole tone is quiet and even; a contrast to the daily reports of bombings, arrests, executions, and disappearances. Food for thought.

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