Arab Institute for Research and Publishing-Beirut has published the
Arabic language edition of Iraqi author Betool Khedairi's second novel
Ghayeb (The Absent One).
several Iraqi families that inhabit an apartment block in Central
Baghdad. It is a dark comedy that juxtaposes the Days of Plenty that
Iraq experienced in the Seventies and the tragic state of Iraq during
the period of Wars and Sanctions. The majority of the protagonists are
female, highlighting the absence of men in their society as a result of
the exceptional conditions it suffers. The stories are linked by Um
Mazin, an old female fortune-teller who becomes part psychotherapist,
part escapism artist for the other central characters.
Using a provocative cinematic story structure, Ghayeb tells the tales of
the families' struggles to survive under the influence of the economic
and intellectual blockade. All the characters stumble through in a Dada-esque
collage, recounted through an eclectic mix of realistic narrative and
surreal hallucinations while the infrastructure and consequently the
social fabric of the community crumbles.
English by The American University In Cairo Press - Cairo- Nov. 2005.