Iraqi bestseller acquired by Oneworld

Iraqi bestseller acquired by Oneworld

Oneworld has acquired The Baghdad Clock by Iraqi author Shahad al Rawi, originally published in Arabic by Dar al-Hikma in 2016.

Publisher Juliet Mabey acquired World English rights from Laura Gross at the Laura Gross Literary Agency in Massachussetts.

The novel is narrated by a young Iraqi girl and her best friend Nadia, who find themselves in an air-raid shelter in war-torn Baghdad during the first Gulf War. Populated by a host of colourful characters, we share the two girls’ dreams, music, school life and first loves as they grow up in a city torn apart by civil war. And as bombs fall, the international sanctions bite and friends begin to flee the country, the city services collapse while abandoned dogs roam the streets and fortune-tellers thrive amidst the fear and uncertainty.

Mabey said: “Al Rawi has given us a fascinating glimpse – through the eyes of a child – of the everyday life in Baghdad under Saddam Hussain, a Baghdad that was largely hidden from the outside world during the two Gulf Wars. We are absolutely delighted to add this astonishing debut to Oneworld’s fiction list, a list that seeks to showcase novels that open windows onto other cultures, and help us understand how others live and think and see the world. It is hard to imagine a time when this was more important, and it is easy to see why The Baghdad Clock was an instant bestseller in Arabic, reprinted five times and selling over 25,000 copies in the first few months of publication.”

al Rawi added: “The book is about my generation, my city, Baghdad, which I was forced to leave but which has not left me. It is about our childhood and adolescence growing up there, and the hopes and dreams that I have laboured to save from oblivion.” 

al Rawi was born in Baghdad in 1986, and graduated from the University of Damascus. She is currently studying for a PhD in Social Anthropology and Management in Dubai, focusing on the pre-occupation Iraqi administration. This is her first novel. Translated by Luke Leafgren, it is scheduled for publication in September 2018.