The Book of Collateral Damage Sinan Antoon, Jonathan Wright

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
09 Jul 2019
Yale University Press
312 pages: 197 x 127mm

Sinan Antoon returns to the Iraq war in a poetic and provocative tribute to reclaiming memory

Widely praised in the Arab world, renowned author Sinan Antoon’s fourth and most sophisticated novel follows Nameer, a young Iraqi scholar earning his Ph.D. at Harvard, who is hired by filmmakers to help document the devastation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the excursion, Nameer ventures to al-Mutanabbi street in Baghdad, famed for its bookshops, and encounters Wadood, an antiquarian bookseller attempting to catalogue everything destroyed in the war, from objects, sites, books and manuscripts, flora and fauna, to human beings.
Entrusted with the catalogue, Nameer finds life in New York movingly intertwined with fragments from his homeland’s past and its present—destroyed letters, verses, epigraphs, and anecdotes—as he drifts throughout the country. The result is a stylistically ambitious, collage-like panorama of the wreckage and the devastation of war and the power of memory.

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist, translator, and associate professor of Arabic literature at New York University. Born in Baghdad, he left Iraq after the Gulf War. The author of several books including The Corpse Washer, his works have been translated into thirteen languages. Jonathan Wright is an award-winning translator of Frankenstein in Baghdad, The Bamboo Stalk, and Azazeel.