The Long Way Back tells the story of four generations of the same family living in an old house in the Bab al-Shaykh area of Baghdad. Through exquisite layering of the overlapping worlds of the characters, their private conflicts and passions are set against the wider drama of events leading up to the overthrow of prime minister Abd al-Karim Qasim and the initial steps to power of the Baath party in Iraq in 1962-63. The skilful building-up of the characters and their worlds within a brief and clearly determined period of recent history allows for a bold and intelligent portrayal of the ambiguous strengths and weaknesses of Iraqi and wider Arab culture. In addition, the dramatization of the relationships between generations, social groups, and genders is achieved with a mixture of humor, bitter irony, and compassion that identifies it as a great work of Arabic literature.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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