Thursday, June 28, 2007


Mayada, Daughter of Iraq by Jean Sasson

Saturday, May 05, 2007

1st Non-Fiction Challenge

Jean Sasson met Mayada when she traveled to Iraq to write about how its women were handling living under the sanctions imposed on that country. Mayada, as an upper-class educated Iraqi, was hired as her interpreter; and the two became close friends. Several years later, Sasson was unable to reach Mayada and later learned that she had been imprisoned for the space of a month in a Baghdad prison. This book tells of her imprisonment as well as her interactions with Saddam Hussein and other leaders in his regime. Mayada is descended from the ruling class of the Ottoman empire and both her grandfathers were well-respected leaders of Iraq when it began its own government in 1921. Because of her ancestry, she was given an insider look at Hussein and others. Descriptions of their cruelty was chilling. During her one-month stay in prison under false charges, Mayada is subjected to relatively light torture only once. However, the women she meets in her over-crowded cell are not so lucky and their sometimes daily tortures are horrendous. They are called the shadow women, perhaps because no one outside the prison knows where they are, maybe because they are so afraid and speak in whispers as they share their stories, or it could just be that most really don't know what crime they are accused of. Only one woman is truly guilty of a crime. After losing her passport, she tried traveling with her sister's to visit a sick relative. A great crime against the state for which she suffered great atrocities. The saddest element for me was that after Mayada escaped from Iraq in 1998 and after the country was liberated in 2003, she was never able to learn the fate of these women. This book brought home the lesson of how absolute power can corrupt so absolutely. It is a sad commentary on a country that is now torn between its own inside factions and the world outside. I liked this book for the history of Iraq and would like to learn more about Sati Al-Husri, Mayada's grandfather, but something about the narrative just missed with me.
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 4:40 PM

Cassie said...
Sounds like such a sad book...Sign me up! Just kidding. Though I think it is on my list. Sounds like an interesting read
5/07/2007 9:14 AM
Framed said...
I'm currently reading another memoir of a modern woman, Kathrine Graham, that I think is much better.
5/08/2007 9:52 PM
Lotus Reads said...
When my mom visited me last summer, she picked this book off my shelf and read it...she really seemed to enjoy it, but I am holding out because there are so many Iraqi and Afghanistan memoirs around at the moment, it's hard to know which ones to pick! Since you've only rated it a 3, it doesn't make me want to rush it to the top of my TBR pile.

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