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Cell Block Five [Hardcover]

Fadhil al-Azzawi

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Book Description

April 29 2008 American University in Cairo Press
Being plucked from a Baghdad cafe and deposited in a cell block for political prisoners is a wakeup call for Aziz, the novel's hero and narrator, a young man who has been living on automatic pilot as if he were a guest visiting his own life and he is finally forced to come to terms with the flawed world we inhabit and shape. Although never charged with any offense, he must adjust to a lengthy stay in prison, where he is befriended by Salam the yard boss, Mun'im an idealistic university student with a beautiful sister named Salwa, Yusuf an idealist dispatched to the 'Swamp' Salman an anarchist schoolteacher, and Mustafa an aged farmer who dreams of an alternative society. While these imprisoned revolutionaries teach Aziz to dream that an ideal city with his name on it may lie just over the horizon, the police supervisor encourages him to think of a simple crime to which he can confess so he can be charged and eventually released. Based on the author's own incarceration in Iraq, Cell Block Five is a clear-headed, good-humored tribute to the prison's men both the inmates and the guards and an indictment of man's gratuitous inhumanity to man, pointing out that the transition from abused to abuser, tortured to torturer, can be an easy one. Written in 1971 and published outside Iraq in 1972, Cell Block Five the first Iraqi prison novel was later made into a feature film in Syria. Drawing the reader subtly into the political section of an Iraqi prison, this compelling story easily transcends cultural boundaries.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: American University of Cairo Press (April 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9774161424
  • ISBN-13: 978-9774161421
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.3 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g

Product Description

Review


"This short, compact novel is sincere. It tells of a Kafkaesque situation and inhumane behaviour in humane, even beautiful, language." --Socialist Review


"A novel that seems on the surface largely harmless and yet rumbles with a deep and loud indictment."--Complete Review


"Cell Block Five is a wonderfully well-written novel; it is permeated with poetic feelings which convey something inimitable, musical, impalpable, and always unmistakably human."--Arab News


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

William Maynard Hutchins teaches at Appalachian State University, is the principal translator of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy (AUC Press, 1989-1992), and has most recently translated Ibrahim al-Koni's Anubis (AUC Press, 2005).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I turned toward the policeman sitting beside me in the patrol wagon, he asked a bit sarcastically, "Are you one of them too?" Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars International fiction that rings true nearly forty years later Feb. 9 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Koran has little description of hell, but some of its believers are spared from experiencing it. "Cell Block Five" is an English translation of the novel. First written in 1971, it's heralded as the first novel exploring the Iraqi prisons, following Aziz, a man ripped from life and is held for being a political prisoner. Touching on human nature's tendency towards cruelty and slightly upbeat all the same, "Cell Block Five" is international fiction that rings true nearly forty years later.

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