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Erm ... I'm sure there used to be a thread called this, but it looks like it's gone. Oh well. Time for a new one! I've just finished Escape From Baghdad by Saad Z. Hossain and I really enjoyed it! I heard about it, of all places, in the FT's books of the year and intrigued bought it as my holiday read. The simplest description I can give it is Tarantino-esque. It's set in Baghdad during the American Occupation and follows the lives of 4 main characters - Kinza, Dagr, Hamid and Hoffman. Kinza and Dagr are our everyman characters - Kinza savvy and street wise and Dagr intellectual. The invasion has destroyed everything they held dear. Careers, family, friends, homes, all destroyed and gone in the chaos the American's wrought. They've become smugglers, wheeler dealers to all and every side, nihilistic and lost. They've ended up with a kidnap victim - Hamid - who was a torturer for Saddam - who tells them about a bunker of gold in Mosul. To try to escape the city - navigating their way though the feuding militias and factions - they turn to Hoffman, a US marine straight out of the Catch 22 tradition of the clueless yank with the perfect knack of landing on his feet. It is a sparse, entertaining read, but then the story adds a fantastic element entering the mystic world of ancient Islam and the learning and wisdom that has passed through Baghdad over the centuries. This conceit has resonances to Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum but rather than Masons, Jesuits and Rosicrucians holding some deep secret here it is Druze, Ismaili, Shia, and Sunni mysteries being unveiled. Eco is a hugely ponderous writer, while Hossain is modern and taut; as I said at the beginning the simplest description is Tarantino-esque. It is a hugely bloody book and Kinza and Dagr basically find redemption in a nihilism which allows them to escape the horrors they have experienced. But within that nihilism there is still a core of friendship and companionship which expands as the disparate band grows and enters into an amazing world full of the ancient mysteries of Baghdad. A really good read. 8/10
Calling all readers and writers... The first Manx Litfest takes place later this month - September 27th-30th - with main festival hub based around the Villa Marina Gardens. Those appearing include former BBC war correspondent and MP Martin Bell, 'Vera' crime novelist Ann Cleeves, crime writer Chris Ewan, Jasper Fforde, Elizabeth Buchan, Tolkien scholar Colin Duriez, Neil Ansell, Roisin Meaney, Fiona O'Brien, children's authors Jeremy Strong, Hilary Robinson and Tom Palmer, poets Thommie Gillow, Gez Walsh and Michael Curtis, and leading UK performance storyteller Ben Haggarty, of the Crick Crack Club. There will be three marquees in the gardens - the main marque, for talks and a book fair; the family marquee, with storytelling for youngsters; and the food and drink marquee, for everyone to refuel. Entry to the 'hub' will be free. Other individual talks/events are taking place in the Promenade Suite and Gaiety - ticketed - as well as around the Island - Castle Rushen, Milntown, Greeba Castle, Erin Arts Centre, St John's Mill, Peel Cathedral and the Manx Museum. Most of these are ticketed, although one or two aren't. For a full run-down on the schedule, have a skeet here: http://manxlitfest.com/book-tickets/ You can follow latest updates by signing up to the email newsletter on our website, or on: www.facebook.com/manxlitfest www.twitter.com/manxlitfest As a bit of background, Manx Litfest has been established as a charity (number 1100) and is being supported financially by Manx Heritage Foundation, Manx Lottery Trust and IOM Arts Council. Without the help of these bodies, this wouldn't be taking place. A number of our individual events are being sponsored by companies, organisations and individuals - to which we are hugely indebted. If anyone has any questions, ask away - or drop us a line at email@example.com We aim to make this an annual celebration of reading, writing and storytelling - everything is in place, all we need now is bums on seats to ensure it's a success! Many thanks for reading. Cheers Manx Litfest team
Hello, Tonight is World Book Night. Bridge Bookshop is holding a reception 7-9pm. Where we have copies of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Misery by Stephen King will be given away for FREE. Anyone know of any other World Book Night events taken place on Island?