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The World Through the Eyes of Angels

Mahmoud Saeed, translated by Samuel Salter, S

Publication Year: 2011

Mosul, Iraq, in the 1940s is a teeming, multiethnic city where Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Jews, Aramaeans, Turkmens, Yazidis, and Syriacs mingle in the ancient souks and alleyways. In these crowded streets, among rich and poor, educated and illiterate, pious and unbelieving, a boy is growing up. Burdened with chores from an early age, and afflicted with an older brother who persecutes him with mindless sadism, the child finds happiness only in stolen moments with his beloved older sister and with friends in the streets. Closest to his heart are three girls, encountered by chance: a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew. After enriching the boy’s life immensely, all three meet tragic fates, leaving a wound in his heart that will not heal. A richly textured portrayal of Iraqi society before the upheavals of the late twentieth century, Saeed’s novel depicts a sensitive and loving child assailed by the cruelty of life. Sometimes defeated but never surrendering, he is sustained by his city and its people.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

This is the story of a child in the forties and fifties of the last century. It is the story of a people in a remote city very far from America, a story of ordinary people in one of the oldest cities in the world, Mosul. It is a city of stone...

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Part One: The Mullah

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pp. 1-6

I was always overjoyed to be released from the one-room Koranic school, where children recited Koranic verses as Mullah Abdul- Hamid’s long yellow bamboo whip hovered, threatening anyone who failed to repeat the verses with complete...

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Part Two: Al-Shahdi: The Refuge of the Fearful

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pp. 7-23

We children disliked going to the Mullah because of the excruciating boredom of repeating the same words over and over again; but we were delighted to go and listen to the marvelous, exciting stories that Sheikh...

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Part Three: Miss Khadija and the Carrot

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pp. 24-31

The first day at school was the most important day of my life because that was the day I began to uncover the secrets of great pictures. On that day I was able to compound my pleasure by learning the names of all the great historical...

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Part Four: Selam

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pp. 32-59

“Run, before the prayer call whisks your father away.” As soon as Mullah Abdul-Hamid uttered these words, I would jump up and start to run. I hardly stopped for a moment, whether before or after I was enrolled...

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Part Five: The Ravishing Madeleine

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pp. 60-91

Madeleine was a rare beauty—a gracefully voluptuous figure, reddish coffee-brown hair, fair skin, and dimples on both cheeks. Her melodious laugh, like the clinking of crystal, had always raised my spirits to the sky. Soaring...

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Part Six: To Love Anew

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pp. 92-136

Sami would join me whenever I passed by my father’s store. I liked him because he would tell me about the strange and enthralling world of the movies. He enjoyed my company because I helped him make toy cars from...

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Part Seven: Ghasoub and Ghadban

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pp. 137-146

Things were moving at a normal pace in our school until the day when the English teacher, Mr. Abdul Alim, exploded the third atom bomb (after Hiroshima and Nagasaki) while...

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Part Eight: Hajim and Sabikaand a Long Night of Love

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pp. 147-156

“Look what he’s done to me!” Sabika said it as she lifted her worn-out dress up to her navel, and for the first time in my life I saw a woman’s pubic area, where the thick black hair lay matted...

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Part Nine: Shafaq

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pp. 157-175

My sister Shafaq lived with us until she was sixteen. Any number of engineers, physicians, and army officers sought her in marriage, but my father preferred that she marry someone who was religious and pious. He chose Qanet...

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Part Ten: Shu’a

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pp. 176-185

They hid normal everyday news from us for no good reason whatsoever. I didn’t find out about Shafaq’s engagement until the day of her wedding, and I didn’t know she was pregnant until her belly was all swollen up and her pregnancy...

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Part Eleven: Nour

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pp. 186-202

It was strange that Shafaq lived all her life and died without her or any of us—me, my sisters, and brothers—knowing that she was not truly our sister. When I passed the third year of middle school...

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Part Twelve: Regrets

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pp. 203-204

I regret two things very much. My first regret is that I was not aware enough back then to record Al-Shahdi’s folk stories about our city, which I have never seen in any book. I failed to write down the unique information...

E-ISBN-13: 9780815650775
E-ISBN-10: 0815650779
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609919
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609914

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011