!Kindle ♃ Outcast ⚖ Haroun Soussan, Narrator Of Outcast And A Jewish Convert To Islam, Is A Civil Engineer And Historian Who S Just Completed His Life S Work, The Jews And History The Book Opens With Him Getting An Award From Saddam Hussein During The Time Of The Iran Iraq War Written In The Form Of An Autobiography, The Narrative Moves In And Out Of The Present, The Recent, And Distant Past, Providing A Unique And Intimate Chronicle Of Iraq S Contemporary Political HistoryShimon Ballas Was Born In Baghdad In And Immigrated To Israel In
i am reading this book in the bathtub squinting in the dim light at a heavy subject, an iraqi jew who does not believe in israel as THE HOMELAND he provides a lot of history about middle eastern jews, how home is a concept that the zionist used for their own selfish reasons it s good to have relaxed muscles while reading outcast a man who grew up along side muslims but was not allowed to eat their food he does anyway when his father is away.eventually he becomes a muslim i believe, his people feel betrayed.written by an iraqi jew who lives in israel, this book is a refreshing read triple sighted, deep and a good story. Good, but not up to expectationsPerhaps some of the lyrical aspects of the writing has been lost in the translation to English The book meanders through the life of of Haroun Soussan a Jewish convert to Islam in Iraq I agree with the previous reviewer that the lack of chapter headings and jumping back in forth in time makes the book difficult to follow I d recommend reading it in a single sitting rather than multiple sessions as I did Someone unfamiliar Iraq over the last 70 years would have difficulty reassembling the historical background The style does augment the notion that Haroun is a static and lonely character who ages slowly but changes little as the world changes around him.For me the book centres around the notion of personal identity and its relationship to others Soussan defines himself as a Muslim and converts on principles of generality because Islam is presented as the alternative that embraces the culture at large and because he fails to connect to his brother Reuben and the Jewish community In spite of this he concerns himself with Zionism and his life s work is a book The Jews In History , the focus of which Ballas has unfortunately decided to hide from the reader Yet his disappointment shows through between his imagined ideals of Islamic community and the reality of political and social life This comes to the fore in the episodes of the 2 farhuds progroms against the Jews of 1941 and 1947 where his uncertainty of how he fits in with both communities and his discomforture that his granddaughter by Hamida his 2nd wife, was given the Jewish name of Sarah and the unexplored question of whether or not Jane, Haroun s first wife, raised his son Jamil as a Jew.Biographical fiction is not my usual fare and I was motivated to read Outcast through Ballas appearance in the excellent documentary Forget Baghdad A precise rating I would give this book is 3.75 stars I would probably not recommend it to others but it is interesting and discussable. This fictional memoir by Israeli writer Shimon Ballas interweaves a broad cast of characters with 70 years of Iraqi political history Meanwhile it s also a very personal story that centers around three boyhood friends from a village near Karbala two of them Arab Jews and a third Muslim While their lives diverge over the decades following WWI, they remain bonded by their love of homeland and their deep desire to devote their lives to what each considers to be its brightest hopes for the future and independence from western colonialism the control of the British in particular.Advocating a secular government built on the ideals of an inclusive social order that grants advantages to no one, regardless of ethnic identity, the narrator Soussan finds himself at odds with the aims of Zionism and its aggressive separatism Believing Islam to be receptive to his political beliefs, he converts to Islam, alienating himself from his family, the Jewish community, and his old friend, the Jewish poet Assad When anti semitism grows in Iraq in the 1940s, Assad joins the 100,000s who leave the country for the new state of Israel Their other friend, Kassem, becomes an ardent communist, whose life is spent in and out of prisons, finally fleeing into exile in Eastern Europe.Educated in the U.S and briefly married to an American, the narrator chooses to return to Iraq, leaving behind wife and son They do not follow him as he hopes, and after years of a solitary life, working as a civil engineer in Baghdad, he marries again and fathers a daughter, while never ceasing to love his ex wife The commitment of his life to his homeland, even to the extent of adopting its religion, leaves him something of an exile in his own country, and there is a degree of melancholy as he remembers a life given to his country at the expense of love and lost friends Yet Ballas leaves him with an assurance of his own integrity, and not a trace of bitterness or regret Readers, however, may take less solace in the ending, as it closes just short of Saddam Hussein s war with Iran.There s a lot of history compressed into this short novel, and the telling of it flows freely back and forth over decades of time The personal and the political are also intimately interwoven, one always having an impact on the other References to historical events may send readers to the Internet for background, but the occasional difficulties are well worth the effort to unravel As the story of Arab Jews is not widely known or understood in the West, it s important to hear their voice Beautifully translated. I had to read this book for school, as I am writing my Master s Report on it, and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was Maybe its a very region specific interest the Middle East but I found it well written and interesting. I picked up this book from a used books sale I opened doors to a new unexplored territory for me That territory is history of Iraq for most of the 20th century It specially unspools the various tangled threads and fault lines of Iraq Some of these are Shia sunni disputes, jews Christian minorities vs Muslim majority, iran Iraq, communists Baathists, massacres of Assyrians, exodus of Iraqi Jews to Israel etc I found book to be interesting.